Get Your Antioxidants from Foods!

You will get more enjoyment and better health benefits by improving your health through key foods compared to synthetic vitamins or prescription drugs.

It is obvious through the warnings on commercials or the fine print on labels that prescription drugs contain a wide variety of potential negative side effects. A large number of vitamins are made synthetically through a chemical process, rather than derived directly from plants. (1) [Links to research articles will be posted at the end of the post.] The more you can derive health benefits directly from the food you eat, the better off you will be.

Adding these key foods into your daily intake will boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, as well as fight heart disease and various forms of cancer.

Tomatoes – Lycopene is a cancer-fighting antioxidant from tomatoes and other red fruits. Of all the carotenoids, lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants; researchers have found a correlation between increasing the consumption of tomatoes and reducing the risk of cancer. (2) With most foods, the health benefits are lost through the heat of cooking. Lycopene is one of the few necessary substances that is more easily absorbed into the body after being cooked. Tomatoes can decrease your risk of bad cholesterol building up inside arteries (plaque formation) and help prevent future heart attacks. (3) In another study done over a 6 year period by Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of more than 47,000 men were studied. Of 46 fruits and vegetables evaluated, only the tomato products showed a measurable relationship to reduce prostate cancer risk. (4)

Lemons – Easily boost your immune system by just squeezing a slice of lemon into your drinking water. Lemons are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, having enough to boost your immune system or help fight off a cold. (5) I add lemon to every glass of water I drink during the day.

Water – More water than what most of us drink is necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies, including flushing out toxins. Up to 60 percent of the human body is water, the brain being composed of 70 percent water, and the lungs nearly 90 percent water. (6) Be sure to drink water that is as free of toxins as you can afford. (See my post on Water Filter for Drinking Water for info on clean drinking water in your home. ) To know how much water you should drink per day, take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2, and drink that many ounces. For example, a 200 lb. man should drink a minimum of 100 oz. of water per day.

Dark berries – Purple, red, and blue berries boost anti-oxidants as well as ward off UV damage. A landmark study shows that just one cup of berries provides all the disease-fighting antioxidants you need in a single day.This newest study used updated technology to assess antioxidant levels in more than 100 foods, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, nuts, and spices. Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries ranked highest among the fruits studied. Wild blue berries had 10 times the USDA recommendation of antioxidants in 1 cup. (7)

I was reminded of this information while we were harvesting our purple muscadine grapes the past few weeks.  We enjoy stocking the freezer for the coming year with a variety of baked goods made with muscadines, as well as just eating them off the vine. One plant, about 6 years old, provides us with 5 to 6 tall stock pots of grapes, and that is with cutting the vine back to fit the arbor each spring. University studies have found that muscadine grapes are one of the richest sources of antioxidants in nature, having 40 times more antioxidants than any other fruit, with high concentrations of resveratrol and ellagic acid. (13)


Spices – B vitamins are the most difficult vitamin for our bodies to absorb. Spices can be one source for your B vitamins. The vitamin B-6 content of 42 spices was measured in duplicate using a microbiological assay. Relatively high sources were the red pepper spices such as chili, cayenne, and paprika, garlic, and certain leaves such as basil, bay leaf, dill weed, oregano, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. (8)

Honey – Honey has long been known to contain a large amount of anti-oxidants, as well as anti-inflammatory properties, and can easily be incorporated into your daily intake by substituting it for sugar in coffee, tea, oatmeal, on toast, etc. Be sure to buy an uncooked type. Honey also contains protein, vitamins and minerals, but no cholesterol. Darker honeys have more nutrients and antioxidants than light ones and the antioxidant levels vary with the flower type. Buckwheat flower honey has the highest antioxidants of any honey, clover is in the middle of the range. For allergy sufferers, eating locally grown honey can prevent seasonal allergies. Recent studies are now able to prove its as an antibacterial topical treatment for burns and ulcers. It also produces hydrogen peroxide, which generate highly reactive free radicals in the body, killing bacteria, further contributing to its antibacterial properties. (9)

Olive Oil – Omega 3 fatty acids are very publicized now as a necessary element for good health, of which olive oil is a good source. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. Studies have shown that it lowers heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. Studies have also shown that it reduces the risk of colon cancer and gallstone formation by activating the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones naturally. It has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis, too. (10) It is important to not just eliminate harmful fats from the diet, but incorporate healthy ones. Increasing your intake of healthy fats also enables you to absorb more anti-oxidants from your food. 2 tablespoons daily is recommended for healthy cholesterol levels. I use light tasting olive oil (Lighter tasting will be specified on the label.), usually immediately before a snack or meal just to get the taste out of my mouth. Check the label to get a brand that is extra virgin oil and cold pressed, as this will be the least processed and retain the most health benefits.

Flax seed – This is another healthy source of plant-derived omega 3 fatty acid, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Though we personally still eat wild caught fish, some doctors do not recommend fish at all as your omega 3 source due to problems with toxic mercury levels. Studies show flax seed lowering total cholesterol and the bad cholesterol levels, as well as helping to lower blood triglyceride and blood pressure. It may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack. Flax seed is also believed to reduce the risk of cancers, especially breast cancer. In addition, the oil from flax seed benefits those with Crohn’s disease and Colitis. (11) I buy a 14 oz. package of Spectrum Naturals Organic Ground Flax Seed at The Vitamin Shoppe (also online at for about $5 US and take 1 tablespoon per day in cereal or oatmeal. For women who have trouble with fibrocystic breast disease, in addition to eliminating caffeine and toxins from the diet, adding flax seed to the your food intake helps to decrease cyst size and pain.

1 Click here for further reading on synthetic versus natural vitamins.

2 Lycopene info

3 Lycopene and heart attack prevention

4 Lycopene reduces prostate cancer

5 Lemon info

6 Water and the body

7 Dark Berries and antioxidants

8 Spices and B vitamins

9 Honey for burns and wounds
Honey and antioxidant rates

10 Olive Oil benefits

11 Flax Seed benefits

13 Muscadine grapes

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