Monthly Archives: April 2013

Life Enhancers by Nature: The Antioxidants

antioxidant africaAntioxidant: a word all health enthusiasts know and want to include in their schedule. So much so that a toothpaste is being marketed as saying it is an edge above others because it includes antioxidants. For those who are new to this here’s a little know how on antioxidants.

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced as a result of various processes that are taking place in our body. Free radicals damage various cells of the body and cause or worsen a number of chronic diseases, like atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis, heart diseases, stroke and diabetes. Free radicals can also lead to diminished immunity.

To neutralize free radicals, our body uses antioxidants.

Antioxidants are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, poultry and fish. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, these foods should be had either raw or lightly cooked. Never overcook them as that would lead to losses of these antioxidants.

Few Antioxidants and their sources:

  • Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, muskmelon, carrots, corn, green peppers, mangoes, turnip, collard greens, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines (keenu), tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Vitamin A: liver, carrots, egg yolk, fortified milk, butter and fortified cereals.
  • Lutein:  spinach, kiwi, sweet corn, mango, broccoli, green beans, prunes, capsicum (orange), peas, melon, grapes, oranges, papaya, peaches, lettuce and pumpkin.
  • Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, grapefruit (chakotra), oranges to name a few.
  • Vitamin C: is in abundance in citrus fruit like orange, grapefruit, lemon. Apart from them foods like strawberries, kiwi, muskmelon, raw cabbage, spinach, broccoli, berries, brussels sprouts (similar to cabbage but smaller in size), cauliflower, mangoes, papaya, red, green and yellow peppers, sweet potato and tomatoes also contain decent dosage of vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E: almonds, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils, nuts, broccoli, carrots, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
  • Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals and dairy products
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads and other grain products
  • Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas and red wine.
  • Catechins: a type of flavonoid found in tea. Catechins may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include: prunes, apple, berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onion, brinjal and beans.

Including lots of colourful fruits and vegetables in your meals makes sure that you include ample antioxidants in your diet. If you are unable to get enough antioxidants by eating fresh food, a multivitamin and minerals can be taken to serve the purpose; but be cautious about taking it under medical supervision only.

Image Courtesy: Africa


Not just grass: It’s WHEATGRASS

wheat grassAs we advance in our quest for knowledge about science and medicine; we are also recalling long forgotten herbs and their benefits. Wheat grass is one such herb which has found several new takers but its benefits and usage has been documented as early as 1900.

Wheat grass is young grass of wheat plant which is a rich source of various vitamins (A, C, E), minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium), amino acids (all essential ones), enzymes, dietary fibre and proteins.  It picks 92 of the 102 minerals in soil; the highest for any plant. The grass is considered to be most nutritious when it is consumed after 11 days of planting.

Various health benefits and actions of wheat grass have been recognized by health care providers but so far lots of researches are underway to back and support the effectiveness of wheat grass.

  • It has been used for increasing production of hemoglobin (clinically proven), improving disorders like diabetes, improving wound healing and preventing bacterial infections. It is also used for removing deposits of medicines (in those taking long term medicines), cancer-causing agents and for removing toxins from the body.
  • Some people also use wheatgrass for preventing gray hair, reducing high blood pressure, improving digestion and lowering cholesterol by blocking its absorption.
  • Wheatgrass is also used to treat various disorders of the urinary tract, including infection of the bladder, urethra and prostate.
  • Other uses include treatment of respiratory tract diseases, like cold, cough, bronchitis, and sore throat, etc.
  • Wheatgrass contains a lot of chlorophyll (the green color of plants which helps them in making their food). Some people think chlorophyll might fight cancer and arthritis.
  • Acts as Hunger Suppressant: Its consumption makes people less hungry.

Wheatgrass juice is a popular health drink. It is thought to benefit health only when fresh and taken on an empty stomach immediately after extraction. But there is no research to date that supports this assumption.

Wheatgrass intake is considered safe for most adults when taken in suggested amounts, for up to one month and is told to be discontinued after that. The dosage then is to be repeated as and when told by the health care provider. Not much research has been conducted on the safety issues of long-term use of wheatgrass. It might cause nausea, appetite loss and constipation in some.

Natural products are not always necessarily safe and the knowledge of their safe dosages are very important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your healthcare provider before using.

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