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Looks at 10 top super foods and their nutritional and antioxidant properties and gives suggestions for their use

The search for the elixir of youth may not have to go further than your own kitchen- provided you stock it full of super foods. So what is a super food? A super food is generally any food that stands out from the rest by virtue of its general nutritional content, anti-oxidant content or ability to heal.

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Studies have shown that up to 85% of age related illnesses are preventable through proper diet and nutrition. Most disease states are prompted by villains that we get through food, stress and the environment called free radicals.

Free radicals have the ability to interfere with genetic material, causing us to age faster or manifest diseases quicker.

Anti-oxidants found in foods help to quell and destroy these free radicals, and therefore prevent damage. Eating phytochemicals (another word for plant chemical anti-oxidants) not only adds years to life but also life and vitality to the years we have. Here are 10 of the top super foods to add to your shopping cart.

Tomatoes

A powerful anti-oxidant, called lycopene is behind many of the tomato’s anti-ageing properties. Lycopene has been shown to help prevent heart disease by protecting the blood vessels against oxidative damage and has also been shown to offer protection against many types of cancer, including lung and prostate.

Lycopene concentration is highest when tomatoes are heated (like as a sauce). It is also fat-soluble so adding some raw olive oil to the meal also helps. Tomato sauce and puree are also good sources. Raw tomatoes also contain some lycopene and have a higher vitamin C content than cooked.

Berries

Berries are a rich source of anthocianidins- antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and improve circulation. Include fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or any other berries, in your diet on a regular basis. In season is best, but not always available. Imported from Brazil, the Acai berry is particularly high in anti-oxidants and has been touted as a powerful skin booster. The China-native Goji berry is another berry with exceptionally high anti-oxidant capabilities. Goji berries can be bought dried and added to smoothies and porridge.

Greens

Green veggies contain the widest range of nutrients and antioxidants of all vegetables and are a good source of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, vitamin C, magnesium, chromium, folate, calcium and potassium. Add heaps of spinach, rocket, Bok Choy or broccoli every day.

Greens are nutritious both raw and cooked.

Wheatgrass, barley grass and blue-green algae, like spirulina can be taken in juice or supplement form for an extra green powered boost. If you battle to get greens in, juicing them is another good option.

Carrots

The bright orange color of the carrot is due to the high amounts of a pigment and antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can help prevent and reverse skin damage caused by excessive exposure to sunlight. Beta-carotene's powerful antioxidant actions also help provide protection against macular degeneration and the development of cataracts, which are the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Some studies have also shown a link between beta-carotene intake and the prevention of certain cancers. Other orange fruit and vegetables containing beta-carotene include butternut, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes and paw-paw.

 

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