A simple explanation of how antioxidants neutralize free radicals, plus a list of 20 foods that slow aging. Learn why “you are what you eat” is more than a cliche…
“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball.
How can you live honestly and yet lie about your age? Good old Lucy! I don’t know if she knew about antioxidants and free radicals — or if she cared. But, we care! So, here’s how how antioxidants neutralize free radical damage, plus foods that slow aging (a list of foods high in antioxidants)…
How Free Radicals in Foods Slow the Aging Process
Free radicals are oxygen molecules that trigger unfavorable changes in our bodies – and the end result is aging. Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can be negatively charged, positively charged, or uncharged. Antioxidants work to stop free radicals.
“[This oxygen molecule] is highly reactive, causing it to react with healthy cells in its environment,” writes dietitian Cheryl Forberg in Stop The Clock! Cooking: Defy Aging–Eat The Foods You Love. “Those free radicals that are missing electrons try to ‘steal’ them from other molecules. This is the process we call oxidation. In contrast, radicals with extra electrons try to ‘donate’ them to other molecules, which initially causes a reduction (of the target molecule).” Single electrons are transferred in both types of free radicals, causing destruction to the healthy cells around them.
Where do Free Radicals Come From?
We’re constantly exposed to free radicals. They’re in the food we eat, the air we breathe (smog, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and the medications we take. And – get this – our bodies produce free radicals as a natural part of our metabolism.
“We generate them as we breathe,” writes Forberg in Stop the Clock! “Some of them are even beneficial.” Not all free radicals are “bad” — but even so, we want to minimize them.
When the free radicals in our bodies exceed our ability to subdue them, we suffer from “free radical burden” or “oxidative stress.” This is where the unhealthy effects of aging occur, and why anti-aging food tips or anti-aging recipes are beneficial.
You may have heard how beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils are in optimizing your health — it’s a food group that slows aging.
How Antioxidants Neutralize Free Radicals
The phytochemicals in antioxidants not only protect plants from the sun’s radiation, they protect us, too. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hasn’t established a daily recommended intake of antioxidants through fruits and vegetables, but Forberg cites Dr Ronald Prior, who says, “most of us are eating less than half the amount required for optimal anti-aging nutrition.”
One of the best things you can do for your health and your appearance is to eat plenty of foods high in antioxidants. In Stop the Clock!, Forberg lists 40 foods with high oxygen radical absorbency capacity; here are the top 20.
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Foods high in antioxidants, that slow the aging process
- Cocoa powder
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Sorghum flour
- Sorghum syrup
- Dried plum (prunes)
- Purple cabbage
- Ground flax
- Stone-ground cornmeal
- Red raspberries
- Raw spinach
According to Forberg, other foods do contain antioxidants, especially when combined in certain ways.
To learn more from this dietitian, read Stop The Clock! Cooking: Defy Aging–Eat The Foods You Love. It’s an anti-aging cookbook that uses food to slow aging – it’s full of recipes for lifelong health and wellness.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an intestinal bowel disease, read A Simple, No-Cook Ulcerative Colitis “Diet Plan”.
And finally — if you have any thoughts about free radicals, antioxidants, or foods that slow aging, please comment below…