Sunday, November 21, 2010

Richness of Life through Antioxidants

Richness of Life through Antioxidants

These days we are constantly bombarded by the media with the latest health crazes and buzz words. One that has prevailed over the last few years is “antioxidants.” We are supposed to eat more foods full of antioxidants to improve our quality of life. But what exactly are antioxidants and which foods offer these mysterious molecules?

According to an article in “Experimental Physiology”[1], an antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. They can, therefore, stop chain reactions between molecules that can damage cells. Because of this characteristic of antioxidants, it is widely believed that they can prevent diseases such as cancer.

Antioxidants can be found in many dietary supplements, but they are also naturally found in a variety of foods. According to[2], three major vitamins high in antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Some of the common foods that are high in these vitamins are broccoli, carrots, and dark greens such as mustard and turnip greens. However, there are other tasty options such as cantaloupe, mangoes, and strawberries. Other antioxidants can be found in zinc, such as that found in seafood, and selenium, which is found in foods such as poultry and whole grain breads. Science Daily[3] recommends artichokes and beans as the foods to put at the top of your antioxidant food list, along with Russet potatoes, pecans and even cinnamon. The United States Department of Agriculture[4] (USDA) has a thorough list of over 300 foods if you need more inspiration on foods you can add to your daily diet that are high in antioxidants.

One of my personal favorites of all of the foods rich in antioxidants are blueberries. One of my close friends makes an excellent blueberry pie which I will share with you. Instead of his traditional pie crust, I’ve included a Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe which will boost the antioxidant power of this pie. So, sit back, dig in, enjoy…and don’t feel bad about going back for seconds!

Blueberry Pie

· 5 - 6 cups blueberries

· 1 1/2 cups sugar

· 1/2 cup flour

· 1/2 tsp cinnamon

· 2 tbsp butter

· 2 (9 inch) pie crusts

1. Line a pie pan with an unbaked pie crust of your choice. (See below for the recipe for a Whole Wheat Pie Crust.)

2. Next, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. Then place about half of blueberries level in the pie shell.

4. Top berries with half of sugar mixture.

5. Place rest of the blueberries in the pie shell, then the rest of the sugar mixture.

6. Scatter dots of butter evenly over the top.

7. Place top pie crust on top and seal with the bottom.

8. Cut 8 slits or so in the top of the pie.

9. Sprinkle the top with a light layer of sugar.

10. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 350°F for another 60 minutes.

11. Let the pie cool for 15-20 minutes. You can serve it warm, but the filling will be runny. If you let it cool completely, the berry filling should "set".

Whole Wheat Pie Crust[5]

Makes one (9-inch) pie shell

· 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

· 1/8 teaspoon salt

· 7 tablespoons very cold butter

Mix flour with salt in a medium bowl or food processor. Add cold butter and cut in using a pastry blender, or pulse in food processor. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until dough forms into a ball. Gather up and pat into a disc. If possible, cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling out. When ready to use, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle. Gently fold into quarters using a little flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in pie plate and carefully unfold, fitting loosely and then pressing into place. Trim the edges and crimp for a decorative crust.

[2] Antioxidants and Your Immune System: Super Foods for Optimal Health

[3] American Chemical Society (2004, June 17). Largest USDA Study Of Food Antioxidants Reveals Best Sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 11, 2010, from

[4]Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 (2010)


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