|Antioxidants and Organic Foods|
By Laura Klein
"As a nation, we are sorely lacking in sufficient fruit and
vegetable consumption, the main source of antioxidants in our
diets," says Jackie Keller, founding director of NutriFit LLC, a Los
Angeles company that specializes in personal catering, nutrition
education and culinary accessories. She's also the author of Body
After Baby: The Simple 30-Day Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight.
"Most Americans have difficulty getting the recommended amount of
fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet," echoes Dr. Ronald
Steriti, a naturopathic doctor and medical advisor for
Lifexpand.com, a U.S. manufacturer and distributor of health and
He makes a strong argument for buying organic produce: "In current
American culture, quality is usually secondary to price in almost
every area," he tells Organic Authority. "Unfortunately, this
includes food. The quality of the fruits and vegetables available at
grocery stores is terrible. Most are laden with toxic substances,
such as sulfates on grapes, pesticides, etc. Very seldom do you see
locally grown food. Also, many times fruits and vegetables are
imported from foreign countries that use toxic pesticides that are
illegal in the United States."
Understanding the Science
Understanding how antioxidants work requires you to add a new phrase
to your vocabulary: "free radicals."
"Free radicals are unstable molecules that are created during
chemical reactions," Keller tells Organic Authority. "When a weak
bond splits between two atoms, it can cause extra, volatile
electrons to be left over. The result is a free radical, which is
ready to attack nearby molecules and cause more free radicals to be created."
Environmental pollutants-exhaust fumes, herbicides, cigarette smoke
and the like-cause free radicals to form in the body, she explains,
which can interfere with normal cell production.
"When free radical production becomes excessive," she says, "damage
can occur and accumulate. Free radicals are associated with
diseases, as well as aging. Antioxidants can neutralize free
radicals by donating an extra electron to them before they become
destructive. Thus, antioxidants protect the body from the harmful
effects of free radicals."
Shopping for Organic Food
The produce aisle is key to ensuring your diet contains adequate
antioxidants. You're looking for organic foods that are rich in
beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, manganese, copper and iron.
Your top choices, according to Keller, are organic blackberries,
blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe,
watermelon, mango, prunes, raisins, plums, oranges, red grapes,
cherries, sweet potatoes, yams, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts,
broccoli, garlic, red bell pepper, onion, corn and eggplant. Dr.
Steriti adds organic avocados, kiwifruit, nectarines, peaches,
pears, grapefruit, lemons, apples and bananas to the list. Vitamin E
requirements can be met by organic nuts, oils, bran, sesame seeds,
tahini and oatmeal, according to Greer and Dr. Woodward.
So, how many servings do you eat? As many as possible, making sure
you consume at least five servings of organic fruits and vegetables a day.
"You can't overdose on antioxidants if you're getting them from
food," Keller says. "From a nutritional perspective, they are low in
calories, high in fiber and water-rich-a real bonanza!"
When it comes to buying organic food, there are two other
nutritional best bets sitting right on the grocery shelf: organic
tea and organic cocoa. They don't replace the dietary need for
fruits and vegetables, but they're great additions to your shopping cart.