Nutrient Spotlight Series: Antioxidants

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Antioxidants are known to be the dynamo defenders that help fight against chemicals called free radicals, found in our bodies. Free radicals contribute to the destruction of cells by stealing their electrons, thus altering our cells’ structure and function. Research attests to the role free radicals play in the onset of a host of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, vision loss, and atherosclerosis to name a few. Free radicals inevitably show up in our system when our bodies convert food to energy, and other ordinary parts of daily living produce these aggressors as well, such as exercising, breathing polluted air, lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and some free radicals are even produced by the sun’s action on the eyes and skin. There is really no way to avoid free radicals and having some is actually necessary for living, but thankfully antioxidants are our ally and front line of defense to help fight against this threat when we do get too many.

Some of the most popular antioxidants include Carotenoids, Vitamin E and Vitamin C, however thousands of antioxidant compounds exist. There are over 600 carotenoids that exist in our foods, but the biggest powerhouses in the fight against free radicals are beta-carotene (Vitamin A), lycopene and lutein. Fruits and vegetables in the red, orange, and yellow spectrum are high in carotenoids, as well as dark-green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes, and Vitamin E is found in oils, whole-grain products, seeds and nuts. Other popular sources of antioxidants, which are not necessarily the richest sources, include coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate.

There are numerous research studies that have been done surrounding the impact antioxidants have on preventing chronic diseases. Many of the studies are inconclusive or do not show strong enough evidence to suggest we all start taking mass quantities of a single antioxidant supplement. More is not always better and over absorption of certain vitamins or minerals can be detrimental to a person’s health. Some studies even indicate that a placebo effect occurs when taking antioxidant supplements, actually negatively impacting diseases like cancer.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain thousands of different antioxidants, however, is a wise decision because of the many other nutritional benefits that these foods provide. A research study conducted at Colorado State University in 2006 found that people who ate the widest variety of fruits and vegetables had the most DNA protection. Regardless of the impact antioxidants actually may have on the onset of disease, they offer an abundance of other dietary value, and it is highly unlikely that a person would exceed toxicity levels with a balanced diet. Stick to natural sources, and choose to eat fruits and vegetables with the skin on to get the most antioxidant bang for your buck.

Brighten up your menus:

Incorporate produce that is in season to your recipes and wow your customers with vibrant, summer salads topped with blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and sunflower seeds for an antioxidant gold mine. By offering diners a fresh, colorful variety of fruits and vegetables on their menus, restaurants will encourage a balanced, vitamin rich diet, chalk full of antioxidants.

Amazing Antioxidants Near You:

Here at MenuTrinfo we have worked with some rockstar restaurants that offer fresh, antioxidant-rich meals that are sure to leave you feeling great. We can’t help but to brag- check out the restaurants below for nourishing meals that are in no way short of flavor!

Core Life Eatery

*Sriracha Ginger Roasted Tofu- green bowl creations

Spinach and shredded kale, roasted organic tofu, broccoli, carrots, sprouts, basil sriracha, carrot chili vinaigrette

Giardano’s Gourmet Salads

*Garden Patch Salad

Baby Leaf & Romaine Greens, Plum Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Plain Tuna, Parmesan Dressing & Wheat Croutons

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