Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 9 – 1/23/15
In the January 21st post, Bea asked the burning question: What the heck are free radicals? The simple answer, based on Bea’s limited knowledge, is that free radicals are evil ninjas, invading our bodies and wreaking havoc on our health and well-being.
There is, of course, a scientific definition of these little pests:
Wikipedia defines free radicals as molecules with unpaired electrons. These electrons are lonely because they can’t find a partner at their local dating site, ElectronMingle.com. Because these electrons are hanging out in our bodies all by their lonesome selves, they attach themselves to other molecules and damage them. (They just can’t stand rejection). The Antioxidant Detective provides a more scientific explanation in this article.
There is a scientific theory that links free radical damage in our bodies (which leads to oxidative stress) to the premature aging process. According to this theory, oxidative stress leads to the development of diseases and is harmful for our brains. For a more scientific explanation of this theory, you can read this article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
But fear not! We can fight back! Like Bea, you’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants. They help protect our bodies from the dastardly deeds perpetrated by free radicals. Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods, certain vitamins and other nutritional sources, such as resveratrol and certain spices.*
We can get antioxidants through our diet – choosing to eat the Mediterranean way is one great way to do this.
Top food and beverage sources of antioxidants include:
- Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens. Red and orange veggies such as red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash. They all contain phytochemicals.
- Blue, red, and purple fruits and berries, which also contain phytochemicals.
- Fatty fish, because of omega-3 fatty acids – wild salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines (ok, you won’t catch Bea eating sardines, but she loves salmon)
- Raw nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamias. Like fish, they also contain omega-3s, along with other nutrients that can lower cholesterol and protect our brain and heart health.
- Red wine – which contains resveratrol, and both black and green tea, which contain flavonoids. Both of these nutrients are free radical fighters.
*Source: Read more about free radicals and antioxidants at the Antioxidant Detective site: Antioxidant and Free Radicals
For more reading:
Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention
Why Drink Green Tea?