Kettering Health | Strive | Fall 2022

they are also created through exposure to sun, pollution, and tobacco smoke. “In high concentrations, these unstable chemicals may cause cell and tissue damage,” Karen continues. ”And damage over time can lead to certain diseases, including cancer, plaque buildup within arteries, rheumatoid arthritis, and neurodegenerative diseases.” First line of defense To help protect against cell damage, one of your first lines of defense might be as simple as what you put on your fork. While there are no absolutes in disease prevention, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help the body protect itself against free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases and illnesses. Plus, antioxidant-rich foods contain other essential nutrients that all work together for the benefit of overall health. “It is important to remember that there is not just one element that reduces risk of developing chronic disease,” Karen says. “Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains—which contain antioxidants—is very beneficial. And a diet that also includes lean sources of protein, is low in fat, and is low in fast foods and processed foods is most beneficial. “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, so even sweets or fried foods can be enjoyed occasionally,” Karen says. “It’s important to remember that the combination of healthy eating plus exercise, social time, and plenty of rest is great for overall health and well-being.” Reach for the rainbow Filling your plate with colorful, plant-based meals could help protect your body and reduce your risk of disease. Foods packed with antioxidants provide essential protection for your cells. It is also important to vary the types of fruits, vegetables, and grains you eat to maximize the benefits of different types of antioxidants, as well as other nutrients that are beneficial to the body. Additional source: Mayo Clinic COOK WITH COLOR SHOPPING LIST Visit to find delicious ways to use antioxidant-rich ingredients in your meals. Fruits Apples Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries Cherries Grapes Mangoes Oranges Plums Nuts and seeds Walnuts Pecans Sunflower seeds Flaxseeds Extras Cloves Dark chocolate Peppermint Grains Whole-grain breads and cereals Buckwheat Quinoa Vegetables Artichokes Beans Broccoli Beets Carrots Bell peppers Eggplant Tomatoes Deep green lettuce Spinach Collards Sweet potatoes Kale • 3-5 cups of vegetables • 1-2 cups of fruits • 4-6 servings of whole grains AIM FOR GENEROUS PLANT-BASED PORTIONS EACH DAY: 17 Cut and save