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

Eye Health & Nutrition

Fruits and vegetables

A tremendous connection exists between eating healthier and weight loss, cardiovascular health, managing blood sugar, and even eye health. Many people wait until their eyesight deteriorates in order to start making changes, but nutrition is a powerful form of preventative medicine which can help protect the eyes from disease and age-related vision loss.

By adding vital nutrients into the diet, you can start fighting the effects of aging and oxidation in the body – including the eyes. Start building up the nutrient supply by focusing on fulfilling the daily fruit and vegetable requirements of five to nine servings per day. Green leafy vegetables are an important food source for a wide array of nutrients that can improve eye health, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. In addition to turnip greens, kale, and collards, another good source of lutein is found in eggs. According to the Journal of Nutrition, eating an egg a day can boost both lutein and zeaxanthin levels in the bloodstream.

  • Vitamin C can help keep eyes healthy by providing protection from the UV-damage of sun exposure. Good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, raspberries, mango, apples, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin E helps with scavenging the free radicals and can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Sunflower oil, wheat germ, and almond butter are some beneficial foods with this vitamin.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the entire body and the eyes need this anti-inflammatory nutrient as well. Eating omega-3s from wild-caught fish, nuts, seeds, or supplements can help.
  • In general, avoiding processed, sugary foods, unhealthy fat sources, while maintaining a healthy weight and blood sugar levels (diabetes have a higher risk of blindness), will also help prevent eye disease.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the developed countries. Macular degeneration is linked to free radicals and homocysteine levels. The passionate work of One Bite Wellness revolves around identifying genetic markers, creating a customized nutrition plan, including more antioxidants and regulating homocysteine levels, and deep-cleaning diets in a way that allows clients to experience a delicious and sustainable manner of eating.

The bottom line is to remember that the foods that are beneficial to the body are also good for the eyes. Quality water, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy protein sources, and fiber are all important for maintaining overall health.