Everyone knows that the fruits and vegetables are an important part of nutrition and that they have numerous health benefits, especially if eaten fresh. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with important vitamins and minerals, but they are also excellent antioxidant sources, which is very important today, in the age of increased pollution.
Importance of antioxidants
Antioxidants are the body’s natural way of fighting and neutralizing dangerous free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that enter the body in form of chemicals like pesticides, pollution, plastics and different chemical byproducts. Since they are unstable, these molecules feed on healthy molecules and cause cell damage, which may lead to many chronic and degenerative diseases. Fortunately, the human body is able to fight them on their own, with the help of antioxidants that are produced in the body and have the sole purpose of fighting free radicals. The problem is that people are today so exposed to environmental toxins that the antioxidants in the body are not enough, so additional quantities have to be taken from food.
Dietary habits of modern man have changed significantly since ancient times, when people consumed more fresh fruits and vegetables. Today most food is processed and packaged, and the antioxidant content in it is greatly reduced. Fortunately, fresh fruit and vegetables are always available and at hand when it comes to providing the body with important antioxidants.
Antioxidant fruits and vegetables
Practically all the fruit has antioxidant properties, but the kinds that are particularly beneficial in that sense are prunes, pomegranate, berries, noni, acai, plums, oranges, grapes, cherries, kiwi, bananas, apples, apricots, peaches, pears and watermelon.
As for the vegetables, the best sources of antioxidants are kale, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, Brussels sprouts, spinach, beets, peppers, onions, corn and eggplant.
Fruits and vegetables work equally fine if eaten raw or in form of freshly squeezed juice. The key word is “fresh”, because cooking and exposing those foods to high temperatures destroys many of the nutrients as well as antioxidant properties. Of course, not all vegetables can be eaten raw, but those need to be cooked as shortly as possible.
Also, some vegetables are more beneficial when cooked. This goes especially for tomatoes, which, when cooked, release lycopene, a compound proven to be efficient in cancer fighting and prevention.
Antioxidant fruits and vegetables prevent cell damage and premature aging and reduce the risk of many diseases and conditions, including stroke, cardiac arrest, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, arthritis and vision problems. They also provide protection against diabetes and cancer and improve the function of kidneys, heart and blood vessels.