I was sitting with my children eating tea yesterday, and my five year old Nat said "Mummy, why do you make us eat so much green stuff". So, I sat down with the three of them and tried to explain the benefits of ANTIOXIDANTS and PHYTONUTRIENTS!!
Here's a blog on them which is a little more complex than the explanation they got!
What are they? Antioxidant nutrients include various vitamins such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and Vitamin E, minerals such as selenium, and phytonutrients. They are found predominantly in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and pulses.
What do they do? ANTIOXIDANTS help to fight FREE RADICALS, the destructive little things produced in the body all the time as part of the cell processes.In small numbers they are fine but if they continue to multiply can cause health problems from heart disease to cancer. FREE RADICALS can also be produced by things like pollution, cigarette smoke, stress and intense exercise.
ANTIOXIDANTS are able to disarm FREE RADICALS, and neutralise them preventing them from harming us, which is why a diet rich in the above foods is so necessary. Particularly if you are involved in intense exercise, or are crazy enough to still be smoking?!
The ORAC score has been put together by scientists to show the ANTIOXIDANT power of fruit and vegetables, and if these foods are eaten regularly will significantly raise the ANTIOXIDANTS in your blood. An example of the ORAC score table is this :
Blueberries 2,400 Kale 1,770
Blackberries 2,036 Spinach 1,260
Strawberries 1,540 Brussel Sprouts 980
Raspberries 1,220 Brocolli 890
So mix it up and eat your fruit and vegetables daily - according to your Metabolic Type* of course (despite kale and broccoli being high they are not good foods for me, I eat lots of spinach, green beans and mushrooms).
These guys are worth talking about by themselves as they are pretty powerful in lots of ways.
What are they? They are plant compounds that have some great health benefits. They include plant pigments, think deeply coloured fruit and vegetables, and plant hormones, found in grains, pulses and herbs (and soya products but be careful with soy, most of it is GMO - will blog about this another day).
PHYTONUTRIENTS have many roles, these are some of them :
fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, combatting FREE RADICALS (they are also ANTIOXIDANTS as mentioned above), reducing heart disease risk, boosting the immune system, helping to balance the bacteria in the gut, and also fighting harmful bacteria and viruses.
The best sources are those fruit and vegetables with deep colour,and it's best to eat a variation of these each day according to your Metabolic Type*. The colours relate to different PHYTONUTRIENTS and the more intense the colour the more PHYTONUTRIENTS you'll get into your body.
Green foods = lots of magnesium, iron and chlorophyll - great ANTIOXIDANTS.
Orange and yellow foods = rich in betacarotene, and other carotenoids which are powerful ANTIOXIDANTS and can help to maintain youthful looks (carrots, apricots and mangoes)!
Red food ie. tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a type of carotenoid, which has lots of publicity in helping with the male prostate. It's also better to cook the tomatoes as this releases greater amounts.
Purple/red foods - plums,cherries,red grapes,blackberries - are very powerful at fighting FREE RADICALS. Their colour comes from anthocyanins.
White foods - apples, pears, cauliflower - contain flavonols, which protect against heart disease and cancer.
So, in summary, is there any reason whatsoever why you wouldn't want to include a few handfuls of these guys in your diet ona daily basis? Think about it - if you don't get several portions of fruit and vegetables every day, your body is having to fight extremely hard against the free radicals which as mentioned above are unavoidable.
I explain to my kids that if they eat their fruit and veg (and believe me it's an upward struggle alot of the time) that the little army of tiny men in their body's (the ANTIOXIDANTS) will have plenty of ammunition to fight off the bad guys (FREE RADICALS) trying to invade. They seem to understand that concept!
* I know I keep banging on about Metabolic Typing but if you're struggling with weight, or have foods that don't agree with you, or have recurrent energy slumps, trouble sleeping, or digestive problems (to name but a few) it could really help you, and it is so straight forward to do. An online questionnaire, results back to me within 48 hours and off we go from there.
TODAY'S TIP : Lets get some colour on those plates!