Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
Anyone who has ever seen a food pyramid knows that fruits and vegetables take up a large portion of our recommended daily diet. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10–12 percent of us are getting the recommended daily intake, which is 3–5 servings of vegetables and 2–4 servings of fruit.
Fruits and vegetables are good for us, hence the reason from an early age that our parents urged us to eat them, even when we didn’t want to. One of the reasons fruits and vegetables are good for our health is that they contain immune-boosting antioxidants.
Antioxidants prevent or slow the damage of healthy cells by free radicals, or problematic cells that are formed through everyday exposure to pollution, UV rays from the sun, and smoke. Our bodies also create free radicals when we are sick or fighting a disease.
Damage done by free radicals to healthy cells can possibly lead to cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to help fight off these free radicals, but as we age we produce less. Luckily, we can get these antioxidants from an outside source through our daily diet.
Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is the term used to measure the antioxidant capacity in different foods. There have been mixed studies and opinions on the value of ORAC when it comes to which foods have the most and to the benefits they truly have for our health.
Nevertheless, it’s always important to consume well-balanced meals as often as possible and change up your fruits and vegetables frequently. Variety is key, and the more colorful your plate the better!
Fruits and vegetables are the best way to get your antioxidants because they also provide other substances to keep you healthy, including fiber, protein, and potassium, among other things. There is a variety of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, and A, lycopene, lutein, flavonoids, and polyphenols.
Foods to look for that have high antioxidants are berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, maqui, and acai, and the list goes on), beans, pomegranates, apples, cherries, pears, avocados, kiwi, pineapple, artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes with the skin, and kale. WebMD.com has a great list of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.
Lucky for us there are tons of delicious produce in season during the warm summer months, so get creative with fruits and vegetables that you haven’t tried before.You can also mix other high-antioxidant powered foods like nuts and whole grains into your meals to further balance your diet. A nice glass of red wine and some dark chocolate are the perfect ways to finish off a high-antioxidant meal, in moderation of course!
Eco18 is a collective of creative-writing individuals from different backgrounds with a common goal—to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Their combined expertise, humor, and opinions explore green and sustainable in a practical, fun way.
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