By Paula Snyder
A nutritious diet is important at every stage of life, but it is particularly essential during the later stages of life when your body needs plenty of assistance to fight harmful free radicals. Free radical damage isn’t just limited to what you can see on the outside of your body. Free radical generating substances, such as fried food, alcohol, smoke, and pesticides, can cause enough damage to your body’s cells and begin to kill them off.
This causes degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, senile dementia, and inflammatory joint disease. Fortunately, there are groups of foods that help to prevent and fight against free radical damage. Often called superfoods, we’ve picked out five of the best nutrient-dense foods that provide your body with the powerful antioxidants it needs to fight free radicals.
It can be confusing figuring out what is and isn’t considered a legume. Essentially, the legume family can be considered ‘pods’ and includes peas, lentil, peanuts, beans, and alfalfa. The nutritional benefits of legumes are far-reaching – they are one of the best and cheapest sources of plant-based protein, and their active ingredients help to fight free radical damage. Beans and peas, particularly, are rich sources of anti-inflammatory properties, and can easily be included in meals such as soup, or snacks, like hummus.
The active ingredient in tomatoes, lycopene, is the same ingredient that causes their reddish color. Studies have linked lycopene with bone health, although it is traditionally known as a key phytochemical in the fight against cancer-causing free radicals. Interestingly, some research suggests processed canned tomatoes are a more efficient way for the human body to absorb lycopene, than fresh tomatoes. The temperature changes involved with processing these tomatoes makes it easier for the human body to absorb lycopene. Lycopene has also been associated with reduction in the risk of heart disease, as well as prostate and digestive tract cancers.