Surprising Sources of Antioxidants

“When it comes to brain protection, there is nothing quite like blueberries,” according to James Joseph, PhD, lead scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “Call the blueberry the brain berry,” says Dr. Joseph.

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NEW FINDINGS ON BLUEBERRIES
We all hear blueberries are a wonderful sources of antioxidants, but “new research reported in peer-reviewed journals by scientists around the world confirms the wide range of health benefits attributed to blueberries, while pointing to promising new therapeutic applications” [Martin, 2006]. <– you can see this information is no longer "new," as the source is from 2006, but all the studies are still interesting. Life Extension Magazine presents the following interesting blueberry facts:

• In a study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, a blueberry-supplemented diet was found to greatly enhance the spatial memory of laboratory animals. When later studied in vitro, the animals’ brains demonstrated structural changes associated with an improved capacity for learning. Researchers believe the two findings are directly correlated.

• In a study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, cold-pressed blueberry, Marionberry, boysenberry, and red raspberry seed oils were evaluated for their fatty acid composition. The oils were found to contain antioxidants with a high capacity to absorb oxygen radicals, and were deemed potent sources of tocopherols, carotenoids, and natural antioxidants.

• The Journal of Medicinal Food reported that in an in-vitro study of aortic tissue of young rats, wild blueberries incorporated in the diet positively affect the plasticity of vascular smooth muscle, but have no deleterious effect on membrane sensitivity. This finding suggests that blueberries may have applications in helping prevent heart disease and stroke in humans.

• In a similar study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers demonstrated that in rat aortic tissue, compounds from berry extracts caused cell changes that may affect cellular signal transduction pathways and contribute to improved cardiovascular health.

• Research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging showed that nutritional antioxidants found in blueberries can reverse age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction as well as cognitive and motor deficits. The investigators speculated that blueberry supplementation may also help slow declines in brain function that accompany diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

• In an in-vitro study published in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 24 hours of exposure to extracts of blueberry antioxidants sharply reduced the production of matrix metalloproteinases—enzymes believed to play key roles in malignant tissue metastasis—in human prostate cancer cells. This led the researchers to postulate that blueberry supplementation may help prevent tumor metastasis.

Clearly blueberries are an amazing source of antioxidants, but did you know so are eggs, spinach & organic milk? [Underwood, 2002].

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Spinach and other leafy greens are still the best sources, but whole eggs are another easy way to get more lutein,” says Mayer

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Jillian Michaels breaks down why I eat the whole egg rather than just the egg whites in the following graphic from Jillianmichaels.com:

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Eggs + Spinach
“Eggs aren’t commonly considered a rich source of the antioxidant lutein (which protects your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts) because they have low concentrations of it, relative to top sources such as spinach. Scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University discovered that the lutein in egg yolks is absorbed more effectively than that in spinach, possibly because the yolks’ fat helps our bodies process the antioxidant much better. So even though one egg has only about 5 percent of the lutein found in just 1/4 cup of spinach, we absorb it 3 times more effectively, explains Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, coauthor of the Tufts study” [Underwood, 2002].

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Organic Milk

“Switch from regular milk to organic and you’ll be rewarded with a stronger dose of antioxidants, including vitamin E and the carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein, says Gillian Butler, PhD, coauthor of a recent British study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Butler’s findings show that the antioxidants in milk from cows raised on organic or grass-fed diets are about 40 to 50 percent more concentrated than the milk from conventionally raised cows. These cows eat more grass, and the pasture itself provides more antioxidants than grain feeding even if the feed is augmented with supplements. If you’re not a frequent milk drinker, look for cheese and butter from grass-fed cows; they also offer more antioxidants than conventional varieties, says Butler.” [Underwood, 2002].

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WebMD also breaks down 10 Antioxidant Superfoods. Find the breakdown of each item listed below here.

Super Food 1: Purple, Red, and Blue Grapes

Super Food 2: Blueberries

Super Food 3: Red Berries

Super Food 4: Nuts

Super Food 5: Dark Green Veggies

Super Food 6: Sweet Potatoes and Orange Vegetables

Super Food 7: Tea

Super Food 8: Whole Grains

Super Food 9: Beans

Super Food 10: Fish

Because of all these items being so nutrient packed, you’ll notice them trending throughout my Ten Day Trim. I also found this cute chart on Pinterest listing additional super foods; you can see the sources in gray below vouching for their accuracy.

What super foods do you add to your daily food regime? There seems to be more and more clever ways to add super foods into our diets thanks to so many recipes available at our digital fingertips, and so many new cookbooks popping up all the time. As modern day consumers, we are so lucky to have such knowledge and resources available to bring more creativity to our kitchens & our family’s plates!

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References

1. Underwood A. So berry good for you; rediscovering the health benefits of berries. Newsweek. June 17, 2002.

2. Martin R. One of Nature’s Most Potent Antioxidants Offers Powerful Neuroprotective and Other Benefits. Life Extension. February 2006. 

3. Jillianmichaels.com, 2015.

4. Pinterest.com, 2015.

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