• Antioxidants With Alex

    April 22, 2012

    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.

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    { 16 comments… read them below or add one }

    Sarah @ Fresh Living April 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Great information on antioxidants. Love it!

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    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Haha love the science lesson!

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    Alex @ therunwithin April 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Got to love those greens!

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    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

    @Alex @ therunwithin: Yummmmyyy. You KNOW, I like eating my greens. ;)

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    Kathi April 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

    So interesting that you would mention that book! I was in the fabric store earlier this week and had to squeeze past some women chatting in the aisle. One was telling the other about this great speaker she’d seen at the local health store give a talk about this book called The China Study! Said it changed her life! I put the name of the book in the back of my brain but forgot all about it till reading your post. Coincidence?? I think not! By the way, love your blog! You really have a way with words, I got lost over there. Will be reading more. ;-)

    Reply

    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

    @Kathi: Thanks Kathi! I would definitely recommend reading the book – although it reads a bit like a textbook at times, it’s definitely worth the time!

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    Catalina @ Cake with Love April 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Great post and very informative!

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    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

    @Catalina @ Cake with Love: Thanks Catalina!!

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    Brianna @ Don't Eat Crap April 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for the great lesson on antioxidants. I need to be more conscious of getting a variety into my diet.

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    annie April 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Why wasn’t science this interesting when I was in school?

    I love the photos that you chose to go along with the post.

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    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

    @annie: Annie, I know! Science was tough for me too, so I tried making this somewhat interesting/amusing haha. So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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    j April 23, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi Alex

    Really interesting post. Just thought I’d mention something I learned in uni. While yes, antioxidants are our defense against free radicals, studies have actually shown that eating excess antioxidants (that is, not the stuff our body makes and not the basal level we get in our basic diet) actually has no protective effect on humans.

    J

    Reply

    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 9:31 am

    @j: So interesting! I’ll be sure not to OD on the POM juice. :)

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    Sarah April 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I loved reading that part of The China Study too. I think it’s so important to teach kids (and who are we kidding… teach husbands too) about WHY it’s good to eat produce instead of Lucky Charms. Simplifying the antioxidants story in this way is perfect! Well done.

    Reply

    Alex @ Alex Eats Green April 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    @Sarah: Thank you Sarah! And an AMEN to educating the kiddies/husbands.

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    Yaron March 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Could not agree more… Green antioxidants are crucial for relieving my arthritis pain!

    Reply

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