KEY NUTRIENTS

While micronutrient density is the best gauge of a foods true nutritional worth, the seven components described here point to the specifics of what comprise healthy food. Five of the seven are directly related to nutrient density; the other two (whether a food is alkaline-forming or contains essential fats) are not but do contribute to what constitutes a healthy choice.

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Plants are only capable of producing antioxidants if they have drawn an adequate amount of minerals from the soil. For plants to develop their full antioxidant potential, they must be grown in mineral-rich soil.

When our body'’s activity level rises, we use extra oxygen, which causes cellular oxidation. Oxidation can create free radicals, which reduce cell lifespan and cause premature cell degeneration. Damage done by free radicals has been linked to cancer and other serious diseases and to premature skin aging. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, with small amounts being produced daily, but stress can increase their presence. A reduction of stress through better nutrition combats the oxidative process and therefore free radical production. Antioxidants in foods also help to rid the body of free radicals by escorting them out of the body.

Because of the increased oxygen consumption associated with regular strenuous physical activity, it creates an abundance of free radicals. We therefore need to combat this negative side effect of exercise. Antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables—vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and the carotenoids (compounds that give vegetables their orange color)—cancel out the effects of the cell-damaging free radicals by slowing or preventing the oxidative process. I noticed a clear improvement in how fast I recovered between workouts once I regularly began eating antioxidant-rich foods.

BEST SOURCES

• Organic berries

• Organic dark-colored fruit in general

• Organic colorful vegetables

• Green tea

BENEFITS

• Protects cellular health

• Speeds physical recovery

• Reduces risk of disease

• Improves skin’s appearance and elasticity

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