Where the Antioxidants Are

Island Epicure

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Antioxidants stop free radicals from trashing your immune system. They help you stay younger longer, and free of inflammation, infection, heart disease, and cancer. You get these miracle nutrients in fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. For maximum nutrition, look for whole bunches: heads of lettuce, heads of broccoli, whole carrots, etc. The pre-washed, torn-up salad greens in plastic packages are convenient, but they’ve already lost a lot of their nutrients and absorbed carcinogens from the plastic.

These 14 fruits have the most antioxidants, ranked for quantity: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, avocados, oranges, red grapes, cherries, kiwifruit, and pink grapefruit.

The 11 most antioxidant-filled vegetables: garlic, kale, raw spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, steamed spinach, broccoli, beets, red peppers, baked beans, and kidney beans.
Two anti-oxidant beverages: red wine and green tea. Black tea lost most of its polyphenols during fermentation, rendering it a less effective antioxidant.

Notice that raw is better than cooked. Raw spinach is great; cooked spinach is just okay. Wash and dry raw spinach just before using to retain the most antioxidants. If you must cook it, steam it just until wilted a bit.

Color is important. Deeper color usually indicates the most nutrition inside, and helps you create an appetizingly artistic salad. When using lettuce for a base, choose darkest red leaf lettuce. Smaller varieties of vegetables give you more nutrition per bite. Grape tomatoes, for instance, have more antioxidant power and more vitamins A and C per bite than diced larger tomatoes. Tiny mandarin or Satsuma oranges yield more Vitamin C and antioxidants.

Spinich & Fruit Salad
4 servings
½ bunch spinach
4 to 6 strawberries
1 avocado
2 or 3 peeled mandarin oranges

De-stem the spinach and wash the leaves in three waters to rid it of all the sand. Pat them dry between clean dishtowels or paper towels. Arrange on a platter. Wash the strawberries and remove stems and leaves. Slice them and arrange atop the spinach leaves. Cut the avocado in wedges. Peel off the skin. Cut in chunks and arrange among the strawberry slices. Dice or just separate the sections of the little oranges. Arrange on the salad to create an eye-pleasing array.

BEET SALAD: Grate 1 small or 1/2 large beet. Arrange in a mound surrounded with de-stemmed and washed spinach leaves. Garnish with sliced green onions. Serve with Ranch dressing or vinaigrette.