Here’s an almost-sinfully fast dessert hack: fill the bottom of an oven-safe dish with berries (any kind). In a food processor, pulse raw almonds, a touch of sea salt, a knob of butter, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Top the fruit with the crumble, and bake at 350*F for 20 minutes. You won’t even notice you’re not having sugar!
Looking for a more exact recipe? Paleo Grubs has a fantastic Blueberry Crumble version that includes honey for extra sweetness. Substitute any berry you’d like!
In short, berries are among some of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. You may be thinking “Hey, I eat clean, don’t smoke, and shower daily – how oxidated can I be?” It turns out that your body actually produces free radicals almost constantly: when you’re around sunlight. When you exercise. When you use your cellphone. All of these activites cause your metabolites to oxidate – or run around your body with a missing electron.
Free radicals are powerful little rebels. They actively seek to steal those missing electrons from other parts of your body. This creates a domino effect: Free Radical A steals an electron from Free Radical B, repairing itself but causing damage elsewhere.
Enter the antioxidant. Antioxidants break the cycle, repairing and protecting your cells from damage. They help ward off age-related diseases like cancer, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
How can you find antioxidants in food? According to Clemson University1, it’s all about the colors:
Color groups of foods may help the body in the following ways.
Blue/purple: lower risk of some cancers; urinary tract health; memory function; and healthy aging.
Green: lower risk of some cancers; vision health; and strong bones and teeth.
Yellow/orange: lower risk of some cancers; a healthy heart; vision health; and a healthy immune system.
Red: lower risk of some cancers; a healthy heart; memory health; and urinary tract health.
Best Bet in Berries
What berries are highest in antioxidants? In order of their ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a test to measure how well a food kills free radicals), here are how berries stack up:
Now, I wouldn’t recommend trying this dish with unsugared cranberries! But a mix of berries from the list above will help to create a positive anti-oxidant reaction at dinner tonight. But you don’t have to tell them that . . . just tell them dessert will be delicious!
For more information on free radicals and how to defend yourself against them, check out our Multi with Antioxidants page, which gives you the skinny on the science behind antioxidants.
- Clemson University Nutrition Guide, http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4064.html ↩