By Yvonne Lin
Nutritionist and Dietitian
Over the years antioxidants have been touted to be the super vitamins with a variety of health benefits, which included healthier skin, cancer prevention, improved immune functions and reduced risk of heart disease. Antioxidants are scavengers with the ability to stabilise nasty cell damaging chemicals called free radicals. They are found naturally in whole fruits and vegetables. This ability has led to the suggestions that consuming large amounts through supplementation and fortifying of food products might reduce free radical damages that lead to chronic diseases and ageing.
However researchers have found little support for supplementing diets with additional antioxidants, especially in isolated form. There is evidence to suggest that eating whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains, all rich in antioxidants help molecules provide protection against effects of ageing. The best thing for good health is to eat a varied diet, aim for a total of five to eight servings of fruit and vegetables everyday.
There is a reason why Mother Nature has all the nutrients in food perfectly balanced. The antioxidants found in foods work as part of a team. They work together with an array of different nutrients to improve performances. The next time you think of Vitamin C or beta-carotene, think oranges and carrots.
A simple way to ensure that you’re getting your daily dose of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals throughout the day is to eat the colours of the rainbow. Choose at least 3 different coloured vegetables at each meal.
Red vegetables contain a pigment called lycopene. This antioxidant can help reduce risk of cancer and is great for heart health. These foods are better absorbed when cooked.
Try: Tomatoes, red capsicum, radishes, rhubarb.
ORANGE / YELLOW
Carotenoids are responsible for giving this group their sunny colour. Beta-carotene is one of the well known groups. It is the pro-vitamin form of Vitamin A. Important for healthy vision and skin!
Try: Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, corn, squash.
Green vegetables are packed full of different antioxidants such as carotenoids, indoles and saponins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. Think lots of leafy greens!
Try: Spinach, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, peas, green beans, celery, cucumber, green capsicum.
PURPLE / BLUE
Anthocyanins are responsible in giving fruits and vegetables their red, purple or blue colour.
Try: Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple asparagus, kidney beans.
BROWN / WHITE
White vegetables contain a range of healthpromoting phytochemicals, such as allicin which is found in garlic, is known for its antiviral and antibacterial as well as cancer fighting properties Some members of the white group, such as cauliflower and cabbage contain indoles, an antioxidant which may have cancer fighting properties.
Try: Cauliflower, brown pears, mushrooms, white peaches, garlic, potatoes, onions, ginger, parsnips, turnips
You can find more articles like this in our Spring 2015 issue e-magazine!
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