Fighting Free Radicals
The development of many diseases has been related, to some degree, to the existence of free radicals that cause cells to age more rapidly. Free radicals constantly attack our cells - each of our trillions of cells has to ward off 10,000 daily attacks. Some of our body's defences come from plant-derived micronutrients.
If our diets are deficient in foods that contain these nutrients, we will be less able to defend ourselves against free radicals. Carrots contain carotenoids such as betacarotene.
Elderberries and grape seeds contain such as OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins). OPCs exert many different effects in the body, helping to improve the circulation and keep blood vessels elastic.
Green tea extract is a source of catechins.
These substances are antioxidants, which can help prevent free radical damage to the body. These natural cell protectors must come through our diet as they cannot be synthesised in the body.
Anthocyanidins, found in elderberries and red beets, are also powerful antioxidants. The water soluble pigments, which give many types of berries their red, blue, violet and black colour, indicate their anthocyanidin content and help support the cardiovascular system, digestion, visual function, collagen tissue and the immune system.
Antioxidants in the kitchen
The malic and tartaric acids in apples help our digestion cope with the acid by-products of indigestion. The action of apples on the digestive system is both antiseptic and soothing.
Apples are generally known as great detoxifiers. People with rheumatic complaints or gout will benefit from eating apples regularly. The pectin contained in apples binds to heavy metals such as lead and mercury and carries them safely out. Pectin also helps keep cholesterol levels stable.
The peel contains a much higher concentration of antioxidant than the whole fruit as the fibre, starch and water take up a lot of the main body of the apple. The apple can provide vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
Beetroot There is a tradition in Eastern Europe of using beetroot to build up the blood after illness. Its tonic effects come not just from its iron content, but also by its ability to increase cellular uptake of oxygen. The liver benefits particularly from the iron found in beetroot, as well as its blood-cleansing effect.
Carrots Carrots contain vitamin A, vitamins B1, 2, 3, and 6, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and potassium in useful quantities. They are a wonderful source of betacarotene. A single carrot will give you your entire daily dose of vitamin A. Betacarotene is particularly useful for the respiratory system as well as disorders of the skin and eyes. Betacarotene in the system will also protect the skin against sun damage to a certain extent.
The high antioxidant content of carrots makes them good for heart problems, as antioxidants help keep arteries supple and a compound found in carrots, daucarine, has been identified as having a vasodilatory effect.
Alfred Vogel recommends carrots as part of his programme for liver problems, possibly partly due to their beneficial effect on red blood cell numbers.
Elderberries These contain vitamin A, vitamins B1, 2, and 6, calcium, iron and potassium in useful quantities.
Ginger This herb is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antidiarrhoeal, antidepressant, reduces blood clotting, and boosts HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol. It's also excellent for nausea and is a warming stimulant for the circulatory system.