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November 28, 2011

Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidants are substances found in fresh whole foods that reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

There are a lot of antioxidant supplements that are being promoted for their health benefits … to reverse aging, to increase strength and endurance, to boost the immune system, etc.

A lot of superfoods are being heavily promoted for their antioxidant properties.

From all this, we get the message that antioxidant supplements and superfoods are essential for good health.

But how much should you take and can you take too much?

First of all, we need to put a few things into perspective.

  • Not all free radicals are bad. They’re part of the normal biochemical processes that occur in the body. While many have harmful effects on the body, others do not.
  • Our bodies need oxidants and antioxidants in the proper balance. Taking too many antioxidants can be as bad as not getting enough.
  • Different antioxidants have different functions. If you supplement with specific antioxidants, are you sure you’re giving your body what it really needs?

Antioxidants are abundant in fresh whole foods, both plant and animal. You don’t have to take high potency antioxidant supplements or superfoods to get the antioxidants your body needs. You just need to eat real whole foods that are antioxidant rich.

If you do choose to take the supplements, you should be certain that the antioxidant supplement is not a synthetic version of the real thing, and it is something that your body needs.

If you’re not sure that you really need that particular antioxidant or superfood, you’re better off getting your antioxidants from real whole foods.

Some animal foods that are rich sources of antioxidants include

  • wild caught salmon – astaxanthin
  • eggs – lutein
  • pasture-fed dairy – glutathione

Other foods rich in antioxidants …

  • green tea
  • white tea
  • rooibos tea
  • berries
  • cherries
  • onions
  • eggplant
  • cabbage
  • pomegranates
  • red grapes
  • olives
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon
  • Indian gooseberry
  • broccoli
  • radishes
  • beets
  • leafy greens
  • dark chocolate

Spices containing antioxidants

  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Botanically infused water is another way of adding antioxidants to your daily food intake without overdoing it.

In our pop-a-pill society, many people mistakenly think that taking supplements or superfoods compensates for eating unhealthy foods. In reality, much of the damage done to your body by over-processed, nutritionally depleted foods containing trans fats and other chemicals never meant to be consumed by humans cannot be compensated for by taking a few antioxidants or nutritional supplements.  Your body needs the real thing … real whole foods. And because we live in a polluted world with all kinds of chemical stresses that we have no control over, most people need both healthy foods and whole food supplements customized to your specific body chemistry.

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