Antioxidants protect the body from dangerous substances called free radicals that can lead to many chronic diseases. Antioxidants work by slowing or preventing the oxidative - or damage from oxygen - process caused by free radicals that can lead to cell dysfunction and the onset of problems like heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes and cancer. For seniors, an antioxidant-rich diet in the following foods and drinks can help boost the immune system and provide major health benefits.

Beans Beans are close to the perfect food. They are chock full of protein, vitamins, calcium, fiber, and more. Red beans have more antioxidants per serving than any other fruit or vegetable. Small red beans and kidney, pinto and black beans are all choices rich in antioxidants.

Pomegranate In addition to increasing antioxidants in the blood, pomegranate also decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) and cholesterol plaque build-up. The major health benefit of pomegranate seems to be its role in reduction of heart disease. It is better to drink the juice rather than eating the fruit, since most of the strong antioxidants found in pomegranate are found in the skin which we don’t consume.
Cinnamon Taken daily, cinnamon’s ability to reduce total cholesterol, bad cholesterol and triglycerides is comparable with statin drugs. Cinnamon seems to help the body use insulin more efficiently. Cinnamon also cuts blood sugar levels by 20 to 30 percent.

Blueberries A great source of antioxidants and dietary fiber, blueberries contain more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. The powerful compounds in blueberries belong to the flavonoid family. These combat free radical damage linked to heart disease and cancer. Studies show blueberries may boost your brainpower also. Blueberries, like cranberries, also fight off urinary tract infections.

Tomatoes Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Tomatoes cooked in soups, sauces or ketchups reduce the risk of prostate cancer and other cancers of the digestive tract. 
Black Tea Black tea may help protect against various forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers say drinking 20 oz. of tea every day for two weeks doubles or triples the immune system's output of an infection fighting substance called interferon gamma.

Green Tea Green tea is another antioxidant-rich choice. Green tea contains a unique antioxidant called EGCG, which stands for epigallocatchin-gallate. These antioxidants are only found in green tea, which help eradicate free radicals and slow the aging process.

Red Wine Red wine is the only alcoholic beverage that makes the list. Red wine contains bioflavonoids, phenols, resveratrol, and tannins, which have antioxidant and anticlotting properties, and raises HDL count – the good cholesterol.

Nuts Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content.

Dark chocolate And for dessert, don’t forget that a piece of dark chocolate. It ranks as high as or higher than most fruits and vegetables in terms of antioxidant content.
Check with your doctor before starting any diet regimen. 
(Courtesy: Brookdale Senior Living's Web-site)


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