Antioxidants. We Kinda Need Them. Part I

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Antioxidants are SO important for disease prevention and leading a healthy lifestyle that I decided to create a mini-series devoted just to their importance! I want each of us to get MORE antioxidants every day! WHY? Because antioxidants are the protectors of our precious cells. They prevent free radicals (unstable molecules that react in our bodies) from causing mass destruction! That’s why we kinda need a lot of antioxidants!

The sad reality is that most of us aren’t getting enough! That’s when things like heart disease and cancer take over our bodies! So what can YOU do!? Start eating for health FIRST! Make it your priority! It’s not as daunting as it sounds; all it takes is a little thought and a trip to the market!

This week I am going to show you where the antioxidants are hiding! I am going to talk about foods you should try to include almost every day! First up? BERRIES!

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Hopefully, we all know how healthy all different varieties of berries are, but how many of us actually eat them regularly? Well, you should! Below I decided to provide a mere SAMPLING of three berries I eat regularly. However, there are TONS of other varieties out there; cherries, cranberries, raspberries, black raspberries, Goji berries, boysenberries, currants, grapes, etc. Take your pick!! It’s all good!! Just include them!!

1. Blueberries top my list of berry super foods!! Blueberries are just 80 calories, contain no fat, are packed with 25% of your daily intake of Vitamin C, are an excellent source of manganese (which help convert carbs, protein, and fats in to energy), and their ORAC value (antioxidant activity per serving) is one of the highest! Check out this chart! In September of 2010, researchers at Oklahoma State University noted that daily blueberry consumption was associated with decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, LDL levels, and specific markers of oxidative stress. The daily consumption of wild blueberry juice demonstrated a boost in memory function in older adults with early stages of memory changes as well (J. of Agr. and Food Chemistry, April 2010). Add a few blueberries to your smoothies, yogurt, or morning bowl of oats! Your body will be on its best defense!

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2. Strawberries taste amazing right now and you should ALL take advantage!  Strawberries not only contribute vitamins C and K, but they also contain manganese, folic acid, biotin, and high levels of ANTIOXIDANTS! Ellagic acid, an antioxidant which is present in many red fruits (raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries), has been shown to bind and inactivate cancer causing molecules! Sign me up!! Slice them up in salads, eat them plain, or blend in a smoothie!  Have you had your strawberries today?

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3. Blackberries are definitely in the top ten list for highest antioxidant value with loads of polyphenols and anthocyanin’s (antioxidants!). Blackberries have an ORAC score just below that of blueberries! Blackberries have just 75 calories per cup, almost 8 grams of fiber per serving, are a good source of folate, and are rich in manganese and vitamin C! Evergreen blackberries contain ellagic acid (just like strawberries), a phenolic compound shown to have anti-carcinogen, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties!! Add a handful to your afternoon snack or mix in your yogurt! Either way, these tasty little guys will make your mouth and body happy and healthy!

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These 3 fruits are just a sampling of what berries can do for your body! Get creative! Instead of spending an extra $10 on packaged goods or meat, load up on fresh or frozen berries! They are an easy, low-calorie, HIGH antioxidant, and tasty addition to any meal or snack!! Stock up today and start reaping the benefits!

QUESTIONS:

 How often do you eat berries?

Every day!

Do you ever stock up on berries in the summer to last you the whole year?

I buy frozen berries in the winter but this year we want to go blueberry picking to stock up for the whole year!

How did you get your antioxidants today?

This morning I had blueberries in my cereal and strawberries for my morning snack!

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