A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
We need to get a daily minimum of 8-11,000 antioxidant units a day in our food. To reach that minimum, all we have to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, right? Not exactly. Let’s say I ate a whole banana during breakfast (in addition to whatever else). For lunch I eat a typical American salad— iceberg lettuce, half cup of cucumber slices, and canned peaches for dessert. Supper included a side serving of peas and carrots and half a cup of snap peas along with yet another salad. And, finally, let’s say I had a cup of watermelon for dessert. I just ate nine servings of fruits and vegetables and am feeling all good about myself. However, I only made it up to 2700 units, less than a quarter of the way to my minimum daily recommended intake. What am I supposed to do, eat 36 servings a day?
What if instead of that banana, I had a single serving of blueberries? And instead of iceberg lettuce for that afternoon salad, I ate four leaves of red leaf lettuce, maybe some kidney beans on top, and a teaspoon of dried oregano as a bonus? For a snack, I had an apple and some dates. It’s not even suppertime, only had five servings, yet I’ve left the minimum recommended daily intake of antioxidants in the dust (topping 28,000 units!). That’s why it’s not just quantity of fruits and veggies that matters, but also the quality. All fruits and veggies aren’t the same. If possible, we should try to choose the healthiest options out there.
Now that it’s midday and I’ve reached my daily minimum of antioxidants with those five super servings, can I just eat whatever I want for dinner? That’s probably not a good idea. The estimated minimum antioxidant need of 8,000-11,000 units does not take into account the added amounts needed if other oxidant stressors—such as illness, cigarette smoke, meat consumption, air pollution, sleep deprivation—are present. If we had to deal with these stressors we’d need to consume more fruits and veggies.
Antioxidant levels can plummet within two hours of a stressful event, but it may take up to three days to get our levels back to normal. The take-home message is that, especially when we’re sick, stressed, or tired, we should try to go above and beyond the antioxidant food minimum. Ideally, we need to be constantly soaking our bloodstream with antioxidants, meaning that we should consume high-powered foods — such as berries, beans, green tea, and dark green leafy vegetables — all day long. Also, spices — such as turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, oregano, and chili pepper — present a powerful source of antioxidants.
From Nutrition Facts. To read the whole article, click here.