We’re going to kick off our new “Over 65” series with a look at one of the biggest culprits of the aging process.
Oxidative stress happens when free radicals run wild through our body.
These free radicals damage tissue and organs… and that speeds up the aging process.
The simplest way to prevent oxidative stress is to eliminate free radicals.
You see, free radicals are scavengers. They search around for any other electron to pair up with. And the chemical reaction of that pairing causes cell and tissue damage.
But antioxidants have the power to offset this process.
They can donate an electron without becoming unstable themselves. When there are antioxidant molecules to pair up with, these free radicals stop damaging other cells.
And this slows down the aging process.
So how do we make sure our body has enough antioxidants?
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices are all packed with antioxidants.
Here are some all-stars:
- Blueberries: These contain anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant concentrated in the berry’s deep blue pigment. A single cup contains 13,427 antioxidants.
- Legumes: Just half a cup of red beans contains 13,727 antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans and tannins. Kidney beans contain 13,259.
- Cranberries: A single cup of cranberries contains 8,983 antioxidants such as anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and quercetin.
- Dark chocolate: The cocoa in dark chocolate contains polyphenols, flavonols and catechins. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity than any other fruits tested – at a concentration of at least 20,000. But stick to 70% or higher levels of cocoa to reap the full benefits.
Dried fruits also have a high antioxidant ratio. Removing the water from fruits enhances their lipoproteins, which protect the body from oxidative stress.
You may be surprised to learn that most of the antioxidants we get actually come from the things we drink.
Tea, for instance, is a good source. Same goes for apple, tomato and grapefruit juices. Beer and wine are even good sources since they’re derived from grain and grapes, respectively.
The important takeaway here is variety.
The goal is to include as many different sources of antioxidants in your diet as possible.
If you are consistently buying the same fruits and veggies over and over again, mix it up… and try to incorporate foods from every color of the rainbow.
But even better, there’s a powerful way to supercharge these antioxidants and make sure they’re primed and ready to jump on those free radicals… and in turn, drastically slow down the aging process.
But we’re going to save that one for Monday. Be sure to check it out.
Do you have questions for Dr. Roberts on the aging process? Send us an email here.