Going to the grocery store is a treat for the senses, especially the produce section. The smells, the colors, the textures and the feel of the fruits and vegetables are a delight for the senses.
Certain fruits and vegetables are recognized for their antioxidant ability to fight potentially damaging molecules, called free radicals. Antioxidant foods are defenses against diseases like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Antioxidant-rich foods also might slow the aging process, though scientists still are trying to definitively measure how consuming them affects the body.
There are no current guidelines for what kinds of antioxidants to eat and in what quantities. Research is trying to compile a set of standards to help consumers make wise, healthy decisions. Though a good rule to follow is, consuming some is better than none and more is better than some.
Some researchers are suggesting antioxidant activity and foods may have some sort of a genetic link. One family could benefit more from eating blueberries while another group sharing the same DNA could have an antioxidant advantage by drinking orange juice. Since no one knows for sure which is the most helpful to which relatives, it continues to be best to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in a daily diet.
Go ahead. Start adding fresh fruit and vegetables to everything from your morning cereal to hamburgers to get a healthy dose of antioxidants. But if you are interested in getting a maximum jolt of the compounds to ward off cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, you might want to wander all over the grocery store.
Red kidney beans contain more antioxidants than wild blueberries per serving. Other antioxidant-rich offerings include artichokes, pecans, Russet potatoes and cinnamon, along with the usual do-gooders such as cranberries, apples, plums and prunes.
Some people have been ready to jump on the blueberry bandwagon. Remember that wild blueberries rank second in antioxidant levels per serving after red beans, while cultivated blueberries rank fifth.
Consumers often are searching for definite specifics in a sea of undefined facts. Nutrition is an evolving science. The current research is the best information using the technology of today’s research laboratories. Combine fluctuating scientific facts with a variety of needs which vary with each family and the fact remains, nutrition is a changing science.
A trip to the grocery store to purchase foods from the outside aisles offers the best chance of getting the healthiest nutrition. The more a food is handled, combined, cooked, canned or frozen, the fewer antioxidants available. Fruits and vegetables are power packed with nutrients for a healthy body.
Whether it is beans or blueberries, experts say the bottom line for consumers is still the same: The more fruits and vegetables, the healthier the meal plan. Speaking of antioxidants, the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants.
Bobbie Randall is a Certified Diabetes Educator, Registered, Licensed Dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org (330-684-4776).