A wide variety of delicious fresh foods in a rainbow of colors that contain antioxidant and other disease-fighting nutrients. A few foods are true standouts, packing in exceptional amounts of nutrients and phytochemicals that help to prolong your life and lower your risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Here, some top antioxidant-packed foods to incorporate into your Meal Plans.
1. Tomatoes (Phase 1): Studies show that eating tomato products may reduce prostate cancer risk, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now allows tomatoes and tomato-based products, like tomato sauce, to carry that health claim. The key ingredient: a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, also found in pink and red grapefruit (Phase 2) and guava (Phase 3).
2. Kale (Phase 1): Research shows that eating dark leafy greens, like kale, may help maintain good health by reducing one’s risk of heart disease and stroke, some cancers, and several other illnesses. They’re rich in beta-carotene, folate, and vitamins C, E, and K, which help protect against free radicals (damaged cells that injure good cells and harm DNA). Regularly eating dark leafy greens may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol and promote normal eyesight. Spinach and Swiss chard also contain these disease-fighting nutrients.
3. Walnuts (Phase 1): Like all nuts, walnuts are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are high in heart-healthy omega-3 oils. Enjoy up to 15 walnuts a day as part of your nut/seed allotment. Other South Beach Diet-recommended sources of omega-3s include flaxseed and, of course, fish and fish oil supplements.
4. Blueberries (Phase 2): A study from the University of Illinois found that a number of compounds in blueberries, including pigment-producing anthocyanins, are powerful in preventing cancer. Other berries have similar antioxidants in smaller quantities.
5. Pomegranates (Phase 2): These fruits are high in flavonoids, antioxidants also found in red wine (Phase 2) and cocoa (Phase 1, unsweetened). Recent studies show that pomegranate juice (Phase 3) may also help prevent heart disease.
6. Sweet potatoes (Phase 2): They’re rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, both powerful antioxidants that work to prevent and possibly reverse the cell damage caused by free radicals. Other good sources of beta-carotene are carrots and apricots (both Phase 2).