Face it, at some point in your life you sneaked your overcooked green veggies under the table to Fido. Maybe you weren’t a big fan of the steamed broccoli, or Brussel sprouts just weren’t your jam. We’ve all pulled this sneaky little trick at some point in our lives but continuing to do so may cost us some amazing health benefits! Fruits and veggies at the end of the rainbow: green, blue, and purple, pack important antioxidants and other nutrients critical to our health. We’ll talk about the importance of these nutrients and give you some ideas of where to find them! We get it. Baked Brussel sprouts might not be everyone’s favorite dinner.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
You can think of antioxidants as little warriors in charge of protecting your cells. This is because antioxidants have the important job of cleaning up free radicals in your blood. Free radicals are unstable molecules that float around in your body.
They’re the result of oxidative stress: when oxygen in the body breaks off into single atoms with unpaired electrons. These electrons don’t like to be lonely. They like to have electron buddies, so they wander around the body trying to pair up. Electrons often try to steal other electrons from important places, like your cells. The whole process causes damage to cells, proteins, and DNA.
Don’t panic though! Your body naturally creates free radicals. Just breathing, exercising, metabolizing, and letting your body run its processes leads to free radicals. However, we also get free radicals from the foods we eat, substance consumption like alcohol, and even unhealthy air.
The risk to your health occurs when there are too many free radicals in your body. This means the cells in your body are taking heavy damage and it can lead to illnesses such as heart disease, many forms of cancer, all inflammatory illnesses like arthritis and lupus, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Antioxidant – Electron Buddy System
Enter the all-powerful antioxidants! They essentially give a buddy to the lonely electron so that it doesn’t go off stealing it from other places and causing trouble. Your body naturally makes antioxidants, but just as with free radicals, you can consume them as well. This is why consuming antioxidants is so important! If you’d like to know more about antioxidants and where to find them, check out our blog post: Natural Superpower: Antioxidants!
Some places you can find powerful antioxidants though are in green, blue, and purple fruits and veggies!
Antioxidants in Green Foods
A couple of the antioxidant all-stars found in green fruits and veggies are lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants guard against the damaging effects of oxidative stress and free radicals. They help protect your cells, proteins, fats, and even your DNA!
Lutein and zeaxanthin may keep your heart healthy by reducing the effects of bad (LDL) cholesterol. They may help in maintaining your arteries clean and reduce the risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a stroke.
These guys also help keep your eyes healthy by protecting from free radicals in the eyes since lutein and zeaxanthin like to hang out in the retina behind your eye. They protect your macula which is critical for vision, so you want to make sure you’re getting enough of these super-star antioxidants!
Lastly, these two antioxidant heroes may also help protect your skin from damaging UV light. This means you have an extra shield (aside from wearing sunscreen) to protect against sun damage or UVB-created tumors.
Folate and B Vitamins
Lutein and zeaxanthin are not the only powerful nutrients in green foods though. Green fruits and veggies are also great sources of folate, an important B vitamin. It plays a key role in the creation of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, converting carbs into energy, and producing DNA and RNA.
For this reason, folate is extremely important during events of rapid growth like pregnancy, infancy, and teen years! Consuming proper amounts of folate during pregnancy helps to decrease the chance of congestive deformities.
B vitamins, including folate, may also help keep your heart healthy, reduce the risk of stroke, and protect against some kinds of cancer! Finally, green fruits and veggies have sulfur-containing compounds known as indoles and isothiocyanates. They have both antioxidant and antibacterial properties that protect your cells!
Sources of Green Food Antioxidants
Some places you can find the nutrient powerhouses of green foods are:
- Green apples
- Green grapes
- Green pears
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
- Leafy greens
- Green peppers
Antioxidants Blue and Purple Foods
Ever had a blueberry smoothie bowl? Aside from making a delicious and refreshing breakfast, blueberries, like many blue and purple foods, carry a lot of awesome antioxidants too. Some of these include flavonoids and anthocyanins which is what gives them their deep, rich color!
Flavonoids keep your cells functioning properly and protect against those pesky free radicals from oxidative stress. In this way, flavonoids are all-stars of protecting your body against toxins and body-stressors which can lead to illness.
Flavonoids and Sickness
These powerful antioxidants are known for their ability to help fight off inflammation and improve your immunity. This combination of effects helps lower your risk of getting sick. Some research also suggests that a diet packed with flavonoids can help decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
More research needs to be done to understand how flavonoids regulate blood sugar levels but adding some delicious berries to your diet is never a bad idea! Unless you’re allergic. In which case, we recommend getting those flavonoids from different foods.
Research also shows that boosting your diet with delicious flavonoids may help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. You seriously don’t want to miss out on the awesome benefits of flavonoids!
Lastly, we have anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are actually a category of flavonoid, but what’s super interesting about them is that, besides their anti-inflammatory and anti-free radical powers, they also have anti-viral and anti-cancer benefits!
Plus, anthocyanins have been used in herbal medicine to help treat many conditions from high blood pressure, diabetic retinopathy, colds, and urinary tract infections, to more serious conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Anthocyanins help keep your heart healthy by improving your overall cholesterol levels (a crucial marker in heart disease), improving your blood sugar and blood pressure, and also fighting oxidative stress.
This powerful antioxidant helps protect against cancer because research shows it may help inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells like breast cancer. More research is needed to know for sure but understanding how antioxidants help protect and regulate your cells means that it’s quite possible anthocyanins may help reduce the risk of cancer.
Sources of Blue and Purples Food Antioxidants
Some foods you can consume to boost your intake of these awesome antioxidants are:
- Black currants
- Dried plums
- Purple figs
- Purple grapes
- Purple asparagus, cabbage, and carrots
- Purple potatoes
How FK Can Help You!
Alright so maybe you see all these delicious foods, you’re pumped to get their nutritional benefits… but you have no idea how to make an actual meal out of them. What if I told you – we can do that for you!
Fran’s Kitchen specializes in creating delicious and nutritious meals for optimal health! Powerful nutrition is kind of our (blueberry) jam. Don’t believe me? Check out our free FK Nutrition Recipe eBook!
In here you’ll find one of my favorite (and easiest) ways to boost your antioxidants: The Mushroom Immune Defense Winter Berry Smoothie!
That’s just one recipe. In the FREE eBook you’ll find 12 incredible meals to upgrade your nutrition and fuel your optimal health!
FK Online Meal Plans
If you’re still hungry for more ways to include antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of powerful nutrients into your diet, you can sign up for our FK Online Meal Plans. We offer three options for our online meal plans:
The best part about these meal plans is that they’re customizable! Once you head on over to our sign-up page, you’ll be offered a survey. Through this, we get to know your current health status, your goals, preferences, and unique needs. After we have all that information, we send you a personalized version of your chosen meal plan option: keto, vegan, or metabolic.
You’ll receive your meal plan in your inbox a few days after filling out the survey. We do not deliver the FK Online Meal Plans to our customers, but we do provide you with an in-depth packet describing the entire meal prepping process, the nutritional profile, and a helpful little shopping list so you know exactly what to get every week!
You can be on your way to optimized health today! You don’t have to spend hours trying to find recipes with certain nutrients or foods. FK is here to help. Join the FK family and experience the life-changing power of optimized nutrition.
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Fran’s Kitchen offers two different meal plan services. Our Delivery Meal Plans are delivered to customers on an agreed upon schedule. Our ONLINE MEAL PLANS are NOT delivered. These online meal plans are sent to customers via email to be cooked, followed, and enjoyed from the comfort of their own kitchens! Please be mindful of these differences when registering for Fran’s Kitchen services. Thank you!