Antioxidants from Food
How can I increase my body’s level of antioxidants?
Nature offers a more balanced variety of antioxidants
and nutrients necessary for balanced health. What may be important to optimal health may not be simply the nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in food but the smart balance or combination that nature has to offer us giving better results. Trying to strike that balance with pills and supplements is a difficult thing to do. Getting your anti-oxidants from your diet is a much better solution than pills.
Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet is the single most important thing you can do increase anti-oxidants intake and promote a healthy diet for heart, brain and general health.
Bottom line- eating your vegetables was good for you as a child and continues to be so as an adult. Increasing you and your families intake of fruits and vegetables also helps digestive health, energy levels, reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.
The USDA recommends 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving is the equivalent of half a cup of broccoli, and a small apple. A large apple is actually two servings. It may be helpful to make small changes rather than try and change your diet significantly. Focus first on adding one extra serving of fruit or vegetable a day. Add a variety of anti-oxidants to your diet by trying new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Because anti-oxidants are pigmented compounds, make your diet a colorful one choosing from all colors of the spectrum- purple, yellow, red, green, blue, orange.
Other foods that are high in anti-oxidants and good for your health are listed below. Many of these have made our Top Foods for PD list. See the accompanying article on Fruits and vegetables- simple tips to get more in your diet.
Foods high in antioxidants?
Dark pigmented fruits and vegetables are a good place to start. Other tasty sources like chocolate, wine, coffee and olive oil may surprise you.
Fruits- Aim for 3-4 servings of fruit.
Vegetables- Aim for 4—5 servings of vegetables.
Red wine or purple grape juice- remember our rule of thumb for health -moderation is key. Limit your intake of wine or alcohol to one glass per day. Eliminate alcohol from your diet if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, thinking problems or balance and coordination difficulties. Some medicines should not be combined with alcohol so be sure to talk with your doctor about whether this is right for you. Grape juice can be used as an alternative to red wine.
Green and white tea- Choose these teas over more common black tea. Although high in antioxidants these teas are also high in caffeine. Limit intake if you suffer from jitteriness, tremor, anxiety or insomnia.
Spices – Learn how to cook with spices to make food more flavorful and interesting. This is especially important for people with Parkinson’s that enjoy food less due to impaired sense of smell or loss of appetite.
Other sources (print Antioxidant worksheet)
Olives and olive oil contain antioxidant and are a source of good fats. Use olive oil in place of other oils, butter or margarine.
Chocolate- Look for chocolate with a high concentration of cocoa a source of flavinoids. Dark chocolate is typically higher in cocoa and lower in (look for >70% cocoa). Again remember our rule of thumb, moderation is key here. Many people with Parkinson’s have sweet tooths and too much chocolate leads to weight gain, too much saturated fat, and less tendency to eat other healthy food choices.
Turn to My healthy diet
in the My Wellness
section and print the antioxidant worksheet. Check the list of those foods that you eat on a regular basis. Follow this with a list of foods that you eat but could increase. Finally add one to two food items that you do not eat but would like to add to your diet.
Author: Monique Giroux, MD