Doctor’s Tip: Don’t rust, eat antioxidant-rich food

Oxidation involves the removal of electrons from atoms or molecules, creating unstable particles called free radicals. In their book “Beat the Heart Attack Gene,” Bradley Bale and Amy Doneen state that oxidative stress is “an imbalance between formation of free radicals and protective antioxidant defenses.”

An example of oxidation in nature is rusting of metal. Another example is when you cut an apple in half and leave it out and the white part turns brown (the peel doesn’t because that’s where most of the antioxidants are). In our bodies, oxidative stress makes us more prone to aging, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The following lead to oxidative stress:

• Smoking.

• Lack of exercise.

• Too much exercise such as running marathons.

• Unhealthy diet.

Antioxidants neutralize oxidative stress, and fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants. Vegetables with intense color such as greens, peppers, red cabbage and onions, black rice and yams are particularly high in antioxidants. So are intensely colored fruits, such as berries, oranges and mangos. Foods with intense flavors such as herbs and spices are also high in antioxidants.

You can find out how many antioxidants various foods contain by going to http://bit.ly/antioxidantfoods. Researchers who put this list together said “antioxidant-rich foods originate from the plant kingdom, while meat, fish and other foods from the animal kingdom are low in antioxidants.” Here are some examples:

• Iceberg lettuce, one of the plant foods with the least nutrients, has 17 antioxidant units.

• Fresh salmon 3 units.

• Chicken 5 units.

• Skim milk and hard-boiled eggs each have 4 units.

• Egg Beaters 0 units.

• Cherries 714 units.

• Some berries have 1,000 units.

There is a lab test called F2 isoprostane that Bale and Doneen call the “Lifestyle Lie Detector” because it is a biomarker of oxidative stress. A normal level is less than 0.86, while optimal is less than 0.25. I see…

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