Hello! My name is Alex, blogging over at Alex Eats Green. I am thrilled (understatement of the century) to be writing a guest post for Tina here on Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Being a longtime reader of CNC, I know that Tina teaches you all the good stuff regarding whole foods, but I thought you guys might be interested to dive a little deeper. Antioxidants. Who knows what they really are? Yes, we know that antioxidants are good for us (especially the ones we find in dark chocolate and red wine, riiiiight?), but other than that, where do they come from, how do they work, and what is the science behind them? Wait! I know, I know. You read the word science and start inching your cursor closer to that X at the top of your screen. I’m very aware that if you really wanted to know about antioxidants, you could plug it into your Google search bar, so I’ll promise I’ll keep this much more entertaining than your search results ever could. I’m not afraid to embarrass myself as leverage (don’t tempt me).
I’m going to put my 7th grade science teacher pants on and tell you a bit about these fancy little molecules. Let’s just pretend I’m a better looking Alton Brown. Maybe? No? Do you ever wonder why that multi-colored funfetti cake looks so darn good? Why, when we’re ordering soft serve do we insist on getting the rainbow sprinkles, instead of chocolate (even though they are made with the same ingredients)? Did you ever notice how Whole Foods puts all of their beautiful, rainbow-bright farm-fresh produce right in front of your nose when you walk through their
beautiful, golden doors? As it turns out, we’re attracted to these colors instinctively. Can you guess why? That’s right. Antioxidants. See! What good little students you’re being already.
I first read about antioxidants in Dr. Campbell’s The China Study, where I was able to learn new jaw-dropping food facts with every page I turned (I’m kind of a freak and really like this stuff). Here’s how it breaks down: Plants go through a process called photosynthesis, in which they absorb the energy of the sun to create their own energy to thrive and grow off of. While the electrons are going through this transfer process, they put up a shield that absorbs and blocks the plant from free radicals. The process of photosynthesis is a bit like a nuclear reactor: if the electrons get out of control and stray from their rightful place, they can release free radicals. When these grumpy free radicals are introduced to our system as humans, they can wreak havoc and can create problems such as cataracts, emphysema, hardening of the arteries, arthritis and all that fun stuff. So it makes sense that plants want to keep these free radical bullies out of their systems. Still with me? Good, because here’s where it gets cool.
This super force-field-shield is made up of those… you guessed it, antioxidants. The thing about these antioxidants is that we as humans, can’t make them on our own. I know, right?! So selfish of those plants. They think they’re so fancy with their photosynthesis and antioxidants all to themselves! Okay, maybe they have one redeeming quality. They give us their antioxidants! Not only that, but they practically beg us to eat them. During photosynthesis, they use the sun’s energy to create color to become more attractive to us. They wave around their reds, greens, yellows and purples for all to see. They want to protect us.
Come on. Isn’t that so cool of nature?! Did I mention that I was kind of a freak and really liked this stuff? If you’d like, come visit me over at my place, Alex Eats Green where I talk about the food and adventures I get myself into in NYC. I tend to eat a lot of this color I’ve been talking about. Green happens to be a particular favorite.