Fight Free Radicals with a Rainbow Punch!

Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients which protect our cells from free radical damage. Studies show antioxidants help prevent the oxidative damage that is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So where are these superheroes found? Check out your local garden patch – most fruits, vegetables, and culinary & medicinal herbs can contain high levels of antioxidants.

A study in recent years found that botanical diversity plays a role in determining the bioactivity of antioxidant phytochemicals. Also, and this is exciting, smaller quantities of many different phytochemicals may have greater health effects than larger amounts of fewer phytochemicals. This is why we inspire people to ‘eat a rainbow’ (and we’re not talking about Skittles candy). Here’s how to form a rainbow of protection against free radical damage:

Red, Purple, and Blue

  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, apples, cherries, pomegranates, red grapes, beets, red cabbage, black rice
  • Contains anthocyanin, betacyanin, and proanthocyanidins
  • Functions: protect cells from aging, reduce cholesterol and may reduce breast cancer risk

Yellow-Orange

  • Carrots, squashes, lemons, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, passion fruit, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and yellow & orange peppers
  • Contains beta-carotene and alpha carotene; often also cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin
  • Functions: protects against some cancers, supports immune system, healthy skin, and good vision

Green Fruits and Vegetables

  • Spinach, kale, avocado, broccoli, swisschard, brussel sprouts, as well as dandelion, mustard, and collard greens
  • Contains lutein, beta carotene, and chlorophyll
  • Functions: builds resistance to certain cancers, protects eyes from oxidative damage that could lead to diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts

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