They have more power than other fruits and veggies! We’ve all heard about the news that Blueberries are the fruit richest in antioxidants – but do you know just how rich? 1⁄2 cup of blueberries provides the antioxidant equivalent of 5 servings of other fruits and vegetables such as peas, carrots, apples, squash and broccoli.
Antioxidants have made quite a name for themselves. With all the new research linking antioxidants to the prevention of diseases, consumers have been bombarded with a slew of new antioxidant claims and products. Antioxidants have been heralded as magic health bullets, and indeed they do play a role in disease prevention.
Antioxidants are a group of vitamins like carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and the mineral selenium. What antioxidants are believed to do is neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have lost one electron and are aggressively looking for a replacement.
In the body, this leads to oxidative damage as the radicals pluck electrons from important cell structures like genes and membranes. Some examples of free radical damage include damage to tissues such as blood vessels which contributes to coronary artery disease, damage to sensitive cells such as in the eye which can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, and damage to our DNA which can lead to cancer. Free radical damage can affect all cells, accelerating the aging process and hastening those diseases associated with age.
New research shows it may help prevent Alzheimer’s. The intake of good levels of folic acid has long been associated with healthy pregnancies in women and many health care systems prescribe folic acid as a matter of course to women in the early stages of pregnancy.
Scientists now believe that this long-established medical practice may contribute to the significantly lower rates of Alzheimer's disease noted among women. Studies have found that folic acid breaks down homocysteine, a hormone which is found in high levels among people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Broccoli is one of the very best sources of folic acids available naturally in food. Increasing broccoli in men's diet may, therefore, prove one of the most effective and easily-administered defenses against this debilitating disease which damages its victims' memory and everyday ability to cope with the world.
Lowers the chances for Parkinson’s Disease. During the last decade, medical studies have explored the relationship between caffeine, particularly in coffee, with the development of Parkinson's disease, (PD), a neurological disorder that occurs when dopamine levels in the brain decrease. PD symptoms that result include trembling, faulty coordination, and difficulty in speaking.
Although the connection between caffeine and PD is not totally understood, scientists do know that caffeine and the adenosine in the brain belong to the same chemical group, xanthines. One theory is that caffeine blocks adenosine receptors and increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate, and is added to some medicines and some colas and other soft drinks.
In a Honolulu Heart Program that studied 8,004 Japanese-American men over three decades, it was discovered that those who did not drink any coffee were five times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those men who drank coffee every day, up to 28 ounces or about four to five cups a day.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke studied 77,000 women during a two-decade period and concluded that caffeine has the same positive effect on women as it does in men, especially when hormone therapy is not a consideration.
About one to one-and-one-half million people in the U.S. develop Parkinson's, among both men and women, and in all ethnic groups. Most are sixty-years-old or older and no cause and no cure are known, although some treatments from medication to surgery have proven helpful.
Rich in antioxidants and phenethylamines to make us happy. There are many benefits to chocolate that are not well known by the general public. For instance, chocolate contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, enhance our immune system, and give us a feeling of well-being. Polyphenols help the body's cells resist damage from free radicals, which damage cell structure and are formed in our normal body processes. Polyphenols also help inhibit platelet aggregation and activation, meaning they help prevent platelets from clumping together, therefore reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis.
Fruits, vegetables, wine, and tea have polyphenolic flavonoids as well, but amazingly polyphenols are found in much higher abundance in chocolate and cocoa. It is important to note that dark chocolate contains more than twice the amount of antioxidants that milk chocolate does and has fewer calories. White chocolate, though, contains no cocoa, and therefore holds no real potential for nutritional benefits. Other health benefits of chocolate include theobromine, a chemical in chocolate that has been shown to be effective in preventing cough. Chocolate also contains healthful nutrients, such as the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, B vitamins, and copper, which are essential for normal biological functions, growth, metabolism, and oxygen transport.
Chocolate can affect mood in several ways. It contains phenethylamine (PEA), which stimulates the nervous system, triggering the release of endorphins, opiate-like compounds that dull pain and give a sense of well-being. There are also chemicals in chocolate that increase the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter directly associated with feelings of sexual arousal and pleasure. Additionally, chocolate can also boost brain levels of serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter, especially in women who tend to be more sensitive to chocolate than men. And yet another way chocolate can make us feel good is by inhibiting the natural breakdown of anandamide, a neurotransmitter normally found small amounts in the brain, which can produce a feeling of euphoria.
Although chocolate is high in calories, it is not high in cholesterol. In fact, a recent study done by the Mayo clinic showed that flavanoids, such as those found in chocolate's antioxidants, help cut back on "bad" cholesterol while raising the levels of "good" cholesterol.
They are ood for your eyes! One large egg is a significant source of a number of vitamins and minerals, and contains only 75 calories and 5 grams of fat. Moreover, most of this fat is the healthy, unsaturated variety. (Eggs are high in cholesterol, but the chief villain in raising blood-cholesterol levels is not the cholesterol in our diets, but in saturated fats.) Also, egg yolks are rich in the pigment zeaxanthin, which seems to help protect eyes from macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people older than 65.
Eat oatmeal instead of taking Viagra? Researchers at Tufts University found that oats hinder the ability of blood cells to stick to the walls of our arteries as well as protecting against the early stages of hardening of the arteries by preventing a fatty build up. The “stickiness” causes inflammation and plaque. Inflammation leads to abnormal growth of the muscle cells under the blood vessel lining and leads to plaque formation – and as the plaque continues to accumulate, it ultimately blocks the arteries and blood flow important for our hearts and other body parts.