According to Holistic Pharmacist, Rosemarie Pierce, “currently, 50% of Canadian adults eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The key to maximum antioxidant intake is to eat 10 or more servings of organic fruits and vegetables daily.”
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by unstable, highly reactive molecules known as free radicals (also known as “oxidative damage”). Free radicals are natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body, but they also come from our environment (chemicals, tobacco) and diets (fried foods, alcohol), etc. Antioxidants are deemed “free radical scavengers”, in which they help stabilize reactive free radicals and put a halt to their “domino effect” destruction. In this way they help protect cell integrity, slow down aging, enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, restore energy, fight allergies and prevent disease. Antioxidants are naturally found in foods, especially colorful produce. As we know, fruits and vegetables come in different colors, and each color is a result of certain nutrients. Generally, the darker the color, the greater the health benefit.
Rosemarie gives 10 reasons to add more organic fruits & vegetables to your diet.
- Restores daily antioxidant levels
- Supports heart and brain function
- Promotes healthy gut microbes
- Energizes and boosts stamina
- Detoxifies blood & liver
- Protects cellular health
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents fat oxidation
- Promotes eye health
- Slows aging
Among the colors that provide full-spectrum antioxidant power, is red. The nutrients in red foods can help benefit daily detoxification, promote digestion, fight inflammation, enhance energy, slow down aging and support healthy skin/hair/nails. Adequate consumption of these ingredients are especially important for children who are “picky eaters”, the elderly with low appetites, athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance, people exposed to poor air quality, those struggling with inflammatory diseases, individuals seeking to support their heart or anyone interested in healthy aging, improved cognitive function and general disease prevention. Top red food examples include pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, goji berries and beetroot. Each of these has an impressive nutritional value and should be consumed regularly for good health. However, beet root specifically, has some interesting health benefits.
Beet root naturally contains iron, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese, fibre and a range of health-promoting phytonutrients, such as betalains, which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. In addition, beets are also considered a top source of dietary nitrates, providing the body with nitric oxide.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a gas that acts as a signaling/messenger molecule. It causes vasodilation which leads to relaxed blood vessels, normalized blood pressure and improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. It also works to reduce platelet stickiness and prevent LDL oxidation, as well as act as a neurotransmitter (messenger) between cells, provides energy production and increases blood flow to the brain helping with learning and memory. In addition, it reduces intestinal inflammation, maintains integrity of gastric lining, and reduces muscle energy use in exercise.
NO can be produced in 2 ways:
1) From the amino acid arginine – found in protein-rich foods. Examples include meat, nuts & seeds.
2) From dietary nitrate-containing foods through the NO3-NO2-NO pathway. Nitrate (NO3) from the diet is broken down by the saliva into nitrite (NO2), which then turns into nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Top sources of dietary nitrate include beets and leafy greens.
The potential health benefits of consuming beet root range from heart to brain to immune health and more. These include: lower blood pressure, improved heart health, stamina boost, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action, eye and nerve support, dementia prevention, gut lining/ulcer repair, detoxification support, reduced intestinal infections, etc.
Beets can be prepared and enjoyed a number of ways. Enjoy them baked into desserts, juiced, grated into veggie patties, pickled, roasted as chips or pureed into soup or dip. To boost nutrition even more, combine beets with other red superfoods blended into a smoothie or as part of a delicious summer salad!
Are you getting enough reds in your diet? Consider a concentrated superfood blend as a convenient pick up when your diet falls short in meeting nutritional needs!
-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-