Sun damage, poor diet and environment exposures can produce an abundance of free radicals. Free radicals are highly charged oxygen atoms that are unstable and create damage to cells and expedite the aging process. Oxidative stress causes free radicals to be produced which play a central role in initiating and driving events that cause aging at the cellular level. Oxidative stress breaks down protein (collagen), alters cellular renewal cycles, damages DNA, and promotes the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body causing skin to age. Oxidative damage is the main culprit for sun spots, decreased skin elasticity, and wrinkles, all of which contribute to the appearance of premature aging, or photo aging.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals prevent signs of aging. Luckily Mother Nature has provided us with an abundance of antioxidants in our food supply. The best antioxidant sources are contained in fruits and vegetables, as well as products derived from plants. Nutrients commonly associated with high antioxidant properties are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene and other carotenoids. Usually, the presence of color, such as purple, orange and dark green, indicates there is a high antioxidant concentration in that food. In addition to fruits and vegetables a great source of antioxidants can be found in green tea, black tea, red wine and dark chocolate.

To aim for a diet high in antioxidants that protect your cells from damage and slow the aging process, include the follow antioxidant nutrients and their corresponding antioxidant rich foods:

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon

Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes

Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

You can never eat too many nutrient rich, anti-oxidant dense foods. Think dark green leafy Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, and blueberries for dinner or adding rich colorful fruits and vegetables in a smoothie. Eating healing has a lot of great benefits but one of the best things is slowing down the aging process.


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