The human body needs highly complex dietary nutrition to function properly and to stay healthy. The role that natural vitamins and minerals play is extremely important and are found in abundance in good healthy foods. They have an important antioxidant effect and it is in role in our health that needs to be considered to perhaps better explain what makes a food ingredient have that little bit of super.
Let’s Talk Science…
Antioxidants are substances that prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation and neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the cause of degenerative conditions like arthritis, damage to nerve cells in the brain, deterioration of eyesight, accelerated aging.
Antioxidants include the minerals copper, zinc, and selenium, as well as the vitamins A, C, and E. Other compounds found in food, such as:
- zoochemicals from animal products
- Dairy Products (milk, cheeses, whey) – Methionine.
- Eggs – Lutein and Zeazanthin.
- Meat – Linoleic Acid, Methionine,
- Protein and Seafood or Marine Zoochemicals- Omega 3, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Vitamin (C,E), Astaxanthin
However, the phytochemicals in plants are thought to have a greater antioxidant effect than either vitamins or minerals. These are known as non-nutrient antioxidants and include lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, and anthocyanins, which are found in cranberries.
More of the sources of antioxidants include:
- Anthocyanins- eggplant, grapes and berries
- Polyphenols – are present in thyme and oregano
- Catechins – present in: red wine and tea
- Cryptoxanthins – found within: red capsicum, pumpkin, and mangoes
- Flavonoids – found in: tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion, and apples
- Lutein – is found in: leafy greens like spinach, and corn
- Beta-carotene – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and parsley
- Lycopene – is found in: tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon
- Vitamin C – well known to be found in: oranges, black currants, kiwi fruit, mangoes, spinach, broccoli, capsicum, and strawberries
- Vitamin E – vegetable oils (such as wheatgerm oil), avocados, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Copper – found in: seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
As you can see antioxidants coupled with a healthy lifestyle are so essential to us and inextricably linked to our good health, they are found in so many important foods and that is what makes the power packed healthy foods a superfood.
They are the important part of our body’s building blocks needed for natural healthy function, regular use and the more diverse you eat the better they are for us. Truly a nature’s bounty superfoods are full of antioxidizing benefits, you may find many fresh here grown or caught the UK and in any food shop, some can only be grown in exotic climes in all the corners of the word and some enhance the flavour of our food in amazing healthy ways, some are simply not yet available fresh in a culinary from your local supermarket.