Antioxidant Break Down

Are you including all colors in your daily diet? Each color on your plate provides certain vitamins and minerals that are crucial for overall health. You have probably heard of the word antioxidants before, and have wondered what it really means.   Antioxidants are your cells’ protective bodies. Numerous daily activities such as smoking, breathing, and exercise produce substances called free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage, leading to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, cataracts, certain types of cancer, and a weakened immune system. Antioxidants work by transforming free radicals to less damaging compounds or simply repair the damaged cells in their entirety. Some of the most common antioxidants are Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E and Vitamin C.

Beta-Carotene

Beta-Carotene is an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A in the body as needed. Until now, dietary intake for beta-carotene has been expressed as part of the RDA for vitamin A.The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 700mcg for females, 900mcg for males. Foods that are high in beta-carotene include red, orange, deep-yellow and some dark-green leafy vegetables. Cantaloupes, carrots, collard greens, kale, mango, pumpkin, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes are all excellent sources of beta-carotene.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects the body against cell damage and also works well with Vitamin C to help protect against chronic disease.  The RDA for Vitamin E is 15mg for men and women. It is readily available in vegetable oils, salad dressings, margarine, spinach, wheat germ, whole-grain products, seeds, nuts and peanut butter.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C protects against infection and damage to body cells, helps in the production of collagen, and helps with the absorption of iron and folate. The RDA for Vitamin C is 90mg for men and 75mg for women. Unlike other antioxidants or vitamins, smokers will require an additional 35 mg/day than the RDA of Vitamin C, than nonsmokers. Some sources of Vitamin C are: citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits and tangerines), strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes.

Tip: Choose deeply colored vegetables and fruits because they are generally higher in antioxidants.

Recipe: Triple Berry Cream Pie

  • 1 cup strawberry (whole) cut up ¼-inch-thickness
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/3 cup blackberry fruit spread
  • ½ cup (4oz) light cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (6oz) reduced fat graham cracker pie crust

Instructions:

  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth
  2.  Spread the mixture over the pie crust.
  3. Whisk fruit spread in a small bowl until smooth
  4.  Spread over the cream cheese mixture
  5. Be Creative! Arrange berries in any way you like to make your pie stand out!
  6. Refrigerate until chilled

Nutrition information:

Calories 170, Total Fat 6g, Protein 3g, Carbohydrate 27g, cholesterol 6mg, Dietary fiber 1g, Sodium 147mg

By Sabyn Saoud, RD

References:

Brunilda, Nazario, MD. (November 16, 2009). Antioxidants and Your Immune System: Super Foods for Optimal Health. In webMD. Retrieved 6/14/12, from http://www.webmd.com.

Fritz, Lenneman . (1/11/12). Antioxidants. In ADA. Retrieved 6/14/12, from http://www.eatright.org.

Group, Edward. (01/21/2009 ). The Health Benefits of Antioxidants. In global healing center. Retrieved 6/14/12, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com.(picture)

 

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