Unclaimed Antioxidants: How Superfoods and their Nutrients Heal Us
By Dr. Millie Lytle ND, MPH, CNS
Antioxidants are substances that may delay, prevent or heal cellular damage by reducing agents that harm our cells. These agents are called free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS). All living organisms are constantly exposed to free-radicals, but the strength of superfoods and antioxidants may be just what we need to defend ourselves!
The Natural Strength of Superfoods and Antioxidants
Superfoods are called “superfoods” for a reason.
It is a term used to describe foods packed with powerful and natural plant constituents that provide superior health benefit and excellent antioxidant protection. Antioxidants that are derived from plants and consumed through daily diet or plant-derived dietary supplements, have been shown to prevent free radical-related diseases by counteracting cell oxidative stress.
An organic plant is more medicinally valuable because it has had to fend for itself through cold snaps or when a pest takes a bite of it. These low-level stressors actually stimulate the plant to produce greater protective mechanisms. And when we eat them, they do the same for us. In fact, low doses of these phytochemicals activate cell signaling pathways but high doses are cytotoxic, which explains why more is not necessarily better.
Antioxidant Benefits For Brain Support
One study looked at the variety of phytochemical antioxidants supplements that have demonstrated brain and central nervous system activity based on their chemical structures: (1) flavonoid polyphenols like epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea and quercetin from apples; (2) non-flavonoid polyphenols such as curcumin from tumeric and resveratrol from grapes; (3) phenolic acids or phenolic diterpenes such as rosmarinic acid or carnosic acid, respectively, both from rosemary; and (4) organosulfur compounds including the isothiocyanate, L-sulforaphane, from broccoli and the thiosulfonate allicin, from garlic. These superfoods and super-nutrients have the ability to activate our own body’s antioxidants defense mechanism, namely Glutathione, Alpha-lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q, Ferritin, Uric acid, Bilirubin, Metallothioneine, L-carnitine and Melatonin.
Phytonutrients and Superfoods
Here is the list of phytonutrients and their corresponding superfoods that have not been given an RDA or daily value recommendation but are absolutely proven for activating our own body’s antioxidant pathways, thereby lending further health value than any single antioxidant alone.
- Flavinoids found in red, blue, purple berries, red and purple grapes and red wine.
- Flavanols found in teas (green, black and oolong white), chocolate, grapes, berries and apples, yellow onions, scallions, kale, broccoli, apples, and berries
- Proanthocyanidins found in chocolate, apples, berries, red grapes and red wine.
- Flavanones found in Citrus.
- Flavones found in parsley, thyme, celery, and hot peppers.
- Isoflavones found in Soybeans Legumes.
- Non-flavonoid Polyphenols found in Tumeric.
- Resveratrol found in Grapes.
- Phenolic acids or Phenolic diterpenes found in Rosemary.
- Organosulfur compounds found in Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables
- Thiosulfonate found in Garlic - Aged garlic is fermented garlic that is more bioavailable, water soluble and stable.
- Cinnaminic aldehyde found in Cinnamon.
These nutrients have an anti-aging ability by being able to activate antioxidant genes that stimulate our body’s own internal antioxidant protection mechanism. These protection mechanisms allow the cell to eject toxic substances and waste products, kill bad and cancerous cells, methylate the DNA for longevity and proper division, and improve the length of the cell cycle. If you eat these nutrients daily, your body will love you, even down to the genetic level.
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