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Harnessing Produce Power to Fight Oxidative Stress

Harnessing Produce Power to Fight Oxidative Stress

Learn which foods can help you combat the cell-damaging effects of oxidative stress and improve your health.

Legend has it that Paul Bunyan (the mythological, seven-foot-tall, super-lumberjack) roamed the upper Midwest with his giant blue ox, Babe. When they encountered a 200-foot tall logjam on a Wisconsin river, Babe was able to reverse the river, send the logs up stream and then have them flow gracefully back down, simply by swishing her tail around as she tried to scare off some bothersome flies. That’s a legendary example of an ox relieving stress.

But sometimes Ox (as in oxygen) doesn’t relieve stress. Instead, it leads to body-wide, oxidative distress, triggering excess inflammation and potentially damaging your DNA and RNA. This also increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes and more.

Enter antioxidants. These health-protecting, plant-based chemicals are found in fresh fruits and veggies—and eating seven to nine servings of them daily can help tamp down the cell-damaging effects of oxidative stress (hence anti-oxidants). That’s why eating antioxidant-rich foods makes your RealAge substantially younger. Try these:

  • Blueberries. Eat a cup a day (organic is best and frozen are as good as fresh) to improve your heart health—even if you already have hypertension, low “good” HDL cholesterol, elevated glucose, abdominal obesity and/or high triglycerides.
  •  Red cabbage. And so are red apples, strawberries, red/purple grapes, beets and raspberries.
  • Sweet potatoes. Plus yellow/orange veggies like carrots, acorn and butternut squash.
  • Black coffee also tamps down damaging oxidation.

But the best way to fight oxidative stress is physical activity. So, walk to your nearest farmer’s market while sipping black coffee, and bring home some organic blueberries.

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