Sunday, January 29, 2012

Antioxidant Power

         In India, the selection of produce is incredible, and super affordable. Pomegranates, which typically sell for 2/$5 in the US (if there is an amazing sale) are 3 for $1. Unfortunately, due to the nature of germs and the fact that I have never been exposed to many of them before, I have to be very careful about the raw fruits and vegetables I meet. Gone are the daily, fresh, raw salads, much to my dismay. However, vegetables and fruits with peels are certainly allowed, and this week at the market, I bought practically every one in sight. My choices are all considered “superfruits”, with major antioxidant power and health benefits.

Papaya – With 313% of your daily vitamin C in a serving, this buttery fruit is sure to please your tastebuds and your doctor. Also present are Vitamins A & E, as well as papain, an enzyme that helps digestive health. Papayas have anti-inflammatory effects, provide immune support, and preserve lung health. They are especially delicious when spritzed with a touch of fresh lime juice and eaten like a melon.

Pomegranate – While cutting and peeling pomegranates is quite a bit of work, I’d say that enjoying this ancient fruit is well worth a little intensive labor. The antioxidants in pomegranates include polyphenols, such as tannins and anthocyanins, in higher amounts than in green tea and cranberry juice. There are even studies the delicious fruit may help prevent heart disease. Although I can’t promise any immediate benefit, I can personally guarantee that when put on top of plain frozen yogurt (especially Yogurtland’s, they make a yummy treat.

Oranges – Everyone knows that oranges are chock full of vitamin C, but what else can they do for your health? Low in calories (when eaten alone, avoid orange juice unless it is fresh-squeezed – there is too much added sugar!), they are fiber-rich, and provide complex-B vitamins such as thiamin, pyriodoxine, and folates, which the body needs from outside sources. Citrus fruits have been found to be helpful in the reduction of risk for cancers, arthritis, obesity, and coronary heart disease.

Carrots – Whenever I’m craving something sweet, I grab some carrots and go hog-wild. Especially delicious dipped in almond butter (which unfortunately, I have yet to find in India), these root vegetables contain, quite obviously, beta-carotene, known to improve eyesight. Another great pick for your daily dose of Vitamin-C, a recent study in the Netherlands found that orange vegetables help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, make like a rabbit, grab a peeler, and get crunching!

Watermelon – Ah, the fruit that brings back the memories of warm summer days, childhood, and sunburns. Thirst-quenching and inflammation-lessening, the pink fruit from “down by the bay” (anyone remember that camp song?) contains a high amount of the antioxidant lycopene, which helps to neutralize free radicals in the body, lessening cell damage. While watermelons are most delicious in the summer season, they are available year-round in warmer clients, so I got very lucky studying here in India, as they are one of my favorite fruits!

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