Antioxidant Foods that Fight Aging at a Cellular Level

June 26, 2024 at 7:24 p.m. Grace O

Antioxidants have multiple roles in the body and one of the most studied is the ability to reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants are one of our body’s best weapons when it comes to aging, because they fight aging at a cellular level and help keep cells from “rusting.”
Research has demonstrated that antioxidants can slow down aging by reducing oxidative stress, a natural byproduct of essential cellular activities such as energy production, detoxification, digestion, respiration, cognition, and exercise. These processes generate free radicals, unstable molecules that initiate oxidation. The insights from this research form the foundation of Grace O’s FoodTrients philosophy, which promotes the concept of food as medicine to promote healthy aging.
Free radicals play a vital role in stimulating important physiological processes, including immune system function and cellular signaling pathways. However, an excess of free radicals leads to an imbalance that triggers a chain reaction of electron theft, resulting in tissue damage. Antioxidants help mitigate this damage by neutralizing free radicals, thereby maintaining cellular health and slowing the aging process.
Grace says that if the balance of oxidative stress gets too high, it can cause damage and “aging” to cells. This is where antioxidants come in; they protect your cells, preventing and repairing damage caused by oxidative stress. This balance is what keeps cells healthy and prevents damage that comes along naturally with living and aging.
Luckily for us, there are many delicious foods that are natural antioxidants that we can incorporate into our diet, which will counter the stress our cells encounter. You probably already know that deeply colored fruits and vegetables like berries and red cabbage contain generous amounts of antioxidants.
Here are some of the antioxidant super foods Grace O recommends we should focus on:

Almonds: are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps protect both brain and skin health.
Beans: are rich in polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Look for colored beans including black, pinto, and kidney, for even more antioxidant compounds. Beans are also high in fiber which can help improve digestion and support detoxification.
Berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are rich in flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C. Many experts recommend including berries in the diet daily.
Dark Chocolate: varieties over 70% cocoa are rich in flavonoids which are a potent antioxidant found in cocoa. That’s right: chocolate is part of a healthy diet because it’s so right in antioxidants!
Sweet Potatoes: these orange vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which helps protect vision and skin from early aging and cellular damage. Orange and red foods should be a regular part of your diet because of their antioxidant compounds.

What drives Grace’s program of healthy aging are nine elements she calls FoodTrients®: Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Beauty, Detox, Disease Prevention, Gut Health, Immune Boosters, Mind, and Strength.  

“The inspiration for me starting my FoodTrients program—the website and my cookbooks—really came from my father.  He was a physician, and he had a way of looking at food as though it could heal us,” Grace explains.  “He understood the value of the vitamins and minerals found in fresh foods and how those elements could influence our health.  Foods like organic fruits and vegetables, wild fish, and humanely raised animals have so many good things in it: antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory agents, fiber, and anti-bacterial compounds.”

Try this antioxidant salad perfect for summer. 
(Recipe and photo reprinted with permission from Anti-Aging Dishes from Around the World by Grace O/
Aztec Berry Salad with Lemon Chia Dressing
Gluten-Free; Vegan if using maple syrup
The Aztecs recorded using chia seeds as far back as 1540. This colorful and refreshing salad is perfect for summer afternoons and evenings. Serve this salad as a starter, side dish, or light summer meal.
Benefits: Chia seeds provide energy in the form of healthy fats (including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids) and plant-based protein. Fresh, seasonal berries provide a concentrated source of beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin C and anthocyanins, which improve capillary function in the brain, eyes, and skin.

For the salad
2 cups (packed) roughly chopped baby spinach
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cucumber, diced
½ cup sunflower kernels
¼ cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh basil leaves

For the dressing
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. chia seeds
1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
1 Tbs. water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
3. Toss the salad with the dressing immediately before serving.
This salad contains the following "FoodTrients"
Omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Vitamin K

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