De-mystifying Antioxidants

We hear a lot about antioxidants and how they are good for us. It seems like every food today contains this mysterious element, even chocolate. But what is an antioxidant and how can all these foods contain this one substance? After all, if you look at a food label you won’t find “antioxidants” listed in the ingredients. That’s because antioxidants come in many different forms as vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and flavonoids.

An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from free radicals, which are by-products of oxygen metabolism that contribute to tissue damage in the body and may contribute to the development of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other diseases. For example, when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is oxidized, it can become glued to arteries and cause coronary heart disease.

Vitamins and Minerals
Antioxidant substances include beta-carotene; lutein; lycopene; vitamins A, C, and E; selenium; and zinc. These antioxidants are found in many foods which include fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish.

Polyphenols are a chemical that act as antioxidants, protecting cells from tissue damage, but can also block the action of enzymes that cancers need for growth and they can deactivate substances that promote the growth of cancers. The polyphenol most strongly associated with cancer prevention is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, found highest in green tea but also grape seeds and cocoa.

Polyphenols occur in all plant foods and can contribute up to 10 times more antioxidant capacity than that of vitamins. For example, the total intake of polyphenols in a person’s diet could amount to 1 gram a day, whereas combined intakes of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E from food is often about 100 mg a day (1/10 that that of polyphenols).

One third of the total intake of polyphenols in our diet comes from phenolic acids and the remaining two thirds comes from flavonoids which are further subdivided into several categories with over 6000 different types.

Salad Dressing Using Olive Oil is the Best Recipe

Whether you’re making a leafy green, lettuce, spinach or vegetable salad, it is the salad dressing that brings flavor and quality to the dish. The number one ingredient used for making hundreds of gourmet salad dressing recipes is a premium bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

Salad dressing using olive oil is the best recipe for any salad since extra virgin olive oil is healthy and  full of flavor. It promotes good health with its antioxidants and monounsaturated fat (good fat). Learn more about extra virgin olive oil and your health, then let’s get the basic measurements of how to make perfect oil and vinegar salad dressing that will work for many different salads.

Learning how to make oil and vinegar salad dressing is as easy as 1-2-3. To make a basic salad dressing with olive oil and vinegar, also known as a basic viniagrette dressing, whisk together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar until it thickens (emulsifies). Depending on the type of vinegar or taste, add approximately 1/3 part sweetener such as honey, agave, or maple syrup. If you’re using a good balsamic vinegar, use a 2:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar and skip the sweetener.

Basic Viniagrette Dressing per 5 cups lettuce (6.5 oz bag)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flavored vinegar (NOT white distilled)
  • 1 teaspoon (1/3 tablespoon) honey/agave/maple syrup (optional)

Whisk with small 8″ whisk in a glass measuring cup or small glass bowl until thick. Preparation time: 2 minutes

Basic Balsamic Viniagrette Dressing per 5 cups lettuce (6.5 oz bag)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon aged Modena Balsamic vinegar

Whisk with small 8″ whisk in a glass measuring cup or small glass bowl until thick. Preparation time: 2 minutes


There are countless variations of the viniagrette recipe depending on the types of lettuce used, the flavor of vinegar and your salad topping ideas.

Curry Chutney Chicken on Endive

Curry Chicken Waldorf

The chicken breast is boiled in curry and garlic salt, chopped and mixed with grapes or raisins, mango and ginger chutney, orange nuts and greek nonfat yogurt.

Fruits and Berries In Season

Fruits are a great way to add more nutrition to a salad and work well with nuts and cheese toppings. By selecting fruits that are is season, you’ll find the freshest and best tasting fruit and berries for your salad.

In Season for Spring: March, April, May

Fruits: Apples, Apricots, Avocados, Bananas, Cherimoya, Coconut, Honeydew, Lemons, Limes, Lychee, Mango, Oranges, Papayas, Pineapple

Berries: Strawberries

In Season for Summer: June, July, August

Fruits: Apples, Apricots, Avocados, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Casaba Melon, Cherries, Coconut, Crenshaw Melon, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew Melons, Lemons, Limes, Lychee, Nectarines, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Persian Melons, Plums, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Watermelon

Berries: Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Loganberries, Olallieberries, Raspberries, Strawberries

In Season for Fall: September, October, November

Fruits: Apples Avocados, Bananas, Coconut, Grapes, Guava, Lemons, Kumquats, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pomegranate

Berries: Cape Gooseberries Cranberries, Huckleberries

In Season for Winter: December, January, February

Fruits:  Apples, Avocados Bananas, Cherimoya, Coconut, Dates, Grapefruit, Kiwifruit, Lemons, Oranges, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmons, Pummelo, Red Currant, Tangerines

Pear and Gorgonzola

Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

Pears are in season in the Fall (September) through Winter (February) months. Choose fresh ripened pears that are not mushy. (Bartletts) are a good choice for presentation in the salad by keeping the pear and skins intact. Japanese pears have more of a watery crunch that tastes good when diced into the salad.