Sally Beare loves antioxidants. 'Highly colored berries' such as cranberries, blackberries, and strawberries are a great source - as are cherries and red grapes. According to Beare, antioxidants are one of the most powerful anti-aging tools available to you. You can buy them at your local supermarket and easily store them in your kitchen. They can even be displayed as decorative fruit bowl centerpieces on your dining table. Some of Beare's favorite antioxidants are anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin as these are 20x more effective than Vitamin C and 50x stronger than Vitamin E at 'moping up' and removing destructive free radicles in your body. Since they are both water-soluble like Vitamin C and fat-soluble like Vitamin E, they are able to function in both the 'fluid' and 'fatty' parts of your body. Better yet, proanthocyanidins are one of the few antioxidants that have the capacity of crossing the blood-brain barrier and thus have the ability to protect your nervous system (think brain) from free radical damage. Also, proanthocyanidins are involved in stabilizing collagen and maintaining elastin - two important proteins found in the connective tissue. Since proanthocyanidin strengthens blood vessels, this antioxidant plays an important role in vision. Our eyes are replete with tiny blood vessels. You can easily identify these antioxidants by the rich blue - as in blueberries - and deep red color in fruit:
|a generous portion of antioxidants on your breakfast cereal|
Perhaps you are familiar with the saying 'the deeper the color, the sweeter the taste'? In fact, the deeper the color, the higher the concentration of antioxidants If you are not a fan of berries you can also obtain proanthocyanidins by eating apples (esp. Red Delicious and Granny Smith), spicing your food with cinnamon, indulging in cocoa, enjoying a glass of red wine or accidentally swallowing some grape seeds.
|Delicious and good for you, too!|
Another powerful chemical found in raw fruit such as cherries, blueberries and cranberries is anti-carcinogen ellagic acid. A Harvard study showed that men who eat the most strawberries have the lowest risk of prostrate cancer. The long-living Hunzakuts in northeast Pakistan supposedly do not get cancer and this is may be partly attributable to the high levels of proanthocyanidins and ellagic acid in their diet.
You may be familiar with the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, in which Morgan Spurlock solely eats at McDonald's for 30 consecutive days. Not only does he gain 24 lbs. but he also starts to develop all sorts of ailments (it took him 14 months to regain his former shape and health). On the other end of the spectrum is Jenna Norwood's 2010 documentary Supercharge Me. For 30 days Jenna only consumed raw food such as seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Just like Spurlock she did a medical check-up at the start and at the end of her 30-day experiment and documented the effect of her 'supercharging' diet on her health. She reports that long-term bruises disappeared, her vision improved, her cholesterol levels improved and her overall energy level increased significantly (and she did not gain 24 lbs. like Spurlock but instead lost 14 lbs). Norwood's diet included raw food high in proanthocyanidins and ellagic acid and it is possible that these unadulterated antioxidants may have contributed to her greater sense of well being. So what about you? How about a 30-day raw food diet? Not so fast? Not quite ready to go cold turkey and switch from a traditional cooked food diet to a raw food diet? Then how about, as a first step, enjoying a generous portion of berries as a snack or adding these to your breakfast or dessert?
Berries are best when organic, local and in season, but you can just as easily keep a bag of this nutritious food within arm's reach in your freezer year-round:
|A loyal friend in your freezer|
Simply thaw the berries by leaving them out at room temperature for 30 minutes or putting them in your fridge the night before you are planning on eating them.
I'm not sure of the effect of the plastic packaging on the contents, but the contents themselves are natural:
|Good for you: a bag of full of berries and pomegranate|
Take-home message: to ensure a ready supply of powerful antioxidants, always keep a generous portion of berries, cherries and red grapes at hand, whether fresh or frozen. Or just enjoy a daily glass of red wine.