It's common knowledge that antioxidants protect us from dangerous substances called free radicals that can lead to many chronic diseases. Science touts antioxidants and their role in everything from preventing cancer and heart disease to boosting the immune system and slowing the aging process.
AgingCare.com has asked top doctors to give their choices for antioxidant-rich foods and drinks that lead to major health benefits.
Blueberries are at the top of the list for every doctor surveyed. Dr. Richard J. Flanigan, director of the Heart and Health Sciences Center and assistant clinical professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, explains why: "Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Blueberries contain more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. The powerful compounds in blueberries belong to the flavonoid family. These combat free radical damage linked to heart disease and cancer. Studies show blueberries may boost your brain power also. Blueberries, like cranberries, also fight off urinary tract infections."
Green tea is another antioxidant-rich choice, says Dr. Narinder Duggal, medical director of Liberty Bay Internal Medicine and teacher at the University of Washington, Seattle. "Green tea contains a unique antioxidant called EGCG, which stands for epigallocatchin-gallate. These antioxidants are only found in green tea, which help eradicate free radicals and slow the aging process."
Tomatoes, add to the list. Dr. Kathleen Hall, a stress/work-life balance expert, founder and C.E.O. of The Stress Institute says, "Tomatoes cooked in soups, sauces or ketchups reduce the risk of prostate cancer and other cancers of the digestive tract. Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. A Harvard University study found that middle aged women, who consumed high levels of lycopene for an average of 5 years, were 30 percent less likely to develop heart disease than women who got far less of the antioxidant."
Red wine is the only alcoholic beverage that makes the list. "Red wine contains bioflavonoids, phenols, resveratrol, and tannins, which have antioxidant and anticlotting properties; raises HDL cholesterol," says Kate Flanigan-Sawyer, reviewing medical officer for the Occupational Health Division of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and CEO of Colorado Prevention Consultants, LLC.
Here are some other foods that rank high on the doctors' lists for the elderly.