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"How to Reach the Antioxidant RDA"
To get up to our daily minimum
of 8-11,000 antioxidant units a day,
all we have to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, right?
Well, let's see.
Let's say I ate a whole banana for breakfast
(in addition to whatever else I ate).
Lunch included a typical American salad—
iceberg lettuce, half cup of cucumber slices,
canned peaches for dessert.
Supper included a side serving of peas and carrots
and half a cup of snap peas along with yet another salad.
And a cup of watermelon for dessert.
I just ate nine servings of fruits and vegetables,
feeling all good about myself
and I only made it up to about 2700,
less than a quarter of the way
to my minimum daily recommended intake.
What am I supposed to do, eat 36 servings a day?
Well, what if instead of that banana,
I had a single serving of blueberries for breakfast.
Whoa, we got squish down the scale here.
And instead of iceberg lettuce for that afternoon salad,
four leaves of red leaf lettuce,
maybe throw some kidney beans on top,
maybe sprinkle a teaspoon of dried oregano as a bonus.
An apple and some dates for a snack.
It's not even suppertime, I really just did 5 servings
and I've left the minimum recommended daily intake
of antioxidants in the dust.
That’s why it’s not just quantity of fruits and veggies
that matters, but quality.
We should try to choose the healthiest ones.
So if we do that can we now skip
fruits and veggies for supper? Never even made it there.
Not a good idea: note these estimated
minimum antioxidant needs do not take into account
the added amounts needed if other oxidant stressors
are present such as meat consumption,
if we're sick, cigarette smoke, air pollution, sleep deprivation
—then just to stay out of oxidative debt
we'd have to consume a lot more than the minimum.
Remember that cool argon laser study?
Their most important finding was that antioxidant levels
can plummet within 2 hours of a stressful event.
Takes 2 hours to lose,
but can take up to 3 days to get our levels back up again.
So the take-home message is that
especially when we’re sick, stressed, or tired,
to go above and beyond the minimum 8 to 11,000
ideally we need to be soaking
our bloodstream with antioxidants,
which means high-powered fruits and vegetables
at every meal like berries or beans
and sipping something like green tea or hibiscus all day long.