The old adage “you are what you eat” is not so far from the truth. Certain foods, most of them fruits and vegetables, are healthy for you because they:
• Are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals
• Are lower in calories, which means you can have a larger portion size with fewer calories
• May lower your risk of heart disease and other health conditions
• Are high in antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E and beta carotene
Some of these foods include: apples, nuts, blackberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, plums, broccoli, blueberries, red beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, vegetable juice, whole grains, red wine and wheat germ.
Antioxidants help protect your body from damage that can be caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
All cells in your body go through a natural process called oxidation. Oxidation occurs when oxygen interacts with cells of any type, for example the cells lining your lungs, or in a cut on your skin. This produces some type of change in those cells. They may die and be replaced in time with fresh, new cells.
This process goes on continuously in your body 24 hours a day. It is necessary to keep your body healthy. Your body metabolizes oxygen efficiently, but still about 1 percent of cells will get damaged in the process and become free radicals.
Free radicals are cells damaged during the normal oxidation process. Experts believe free radicals probably play a role in many chronic diseases, such as atherosclerosis (blood vessel disease), cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and they can contribute to the aging process.
The best and safest way to get your antioxidants is by eating a diet rich in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables rather than from supplements.
Taking supplements in high doses can be harmful. You should eat five to nine servings each day of a variety of fruits, and vegetables from each of the subgroups: dark green vegetables, beans (legumes), starchy vegetables, orange vegetables and other vegetables.
Berries, such as raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are also important to include in your diet. Peaches, mangos and melons rank high for good antioxidant content.
So, next time you are preparing a meal or going out to eat, remember to include those fruits and veggies. They will help to keep you young and healthy.