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Antioxidants for Brain Health

"Antioxidant" is a word that gets used a lot in social media and food advertising, but I feel it is never well explained. An antioxidant are molecules that help prevent oxidative damage to the cells in your body. They do this by neutralizing free radicals that are created during various processes in our body.


A free radical is like an excited dog that runs into the room, and is jumping and barking and trying to touch as many people as possible. While this is happening, the dog might cause some damage such as breaking a lamp, scratching your nephew, or knocking a glass of water out of your hand. The dog will keep causing a ruckus until someone can catch the dog's attention, pet him and calm him down.


In our body when a free radical is created, it can lead to chemical reactions between our cells that can damage to the tissues of our organs and/or blood vessels. Some of this damage can be very harmful. Free radicals roaming around your body can also lead to inflammation, so having adequate antioxidants patrolling your body can also help reduce inflammation.


I would like to note that inflammation is a normal bodily process, and some inflammation in necessary. For example, or immune response could qualify as an inflammation reaction. Therefore, it shouldn't be your goal to completely eliminate inflammation in your body, but you definitely want to keep it to a minimum.


You can protect your body from free radical damage by eating a diet high in antioxidants. A 2021 systematic review found that a diet high in an antioxidant called flavonoids can reduce cognitive decline as we get older.


Some sources of flavonoids include:

  • Bell Peppers

  • Berries

  • Oranges

  • Red Cabbage

  • Kale

  • Parsley

Looking to add some brain-food into your diet? Try this Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe for an easy weeknight dinner that is high in flavonoids.


Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey and Quinoa



Ingredients

  • 6 bell peppers

  • ¼ yellow onion, diced

  • ½ cup corn, canned or frozen

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1 16 oz jar salsa

  • 1 pound ground turkey

  • ½ cup Mexican style cheddar cheese

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper



Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a medium pot with 1 3/4 cups water over high heat and bring to a boil.

  2. Once the water is boiling, add 1 cup uncooked quinoa

  3. While the quinoa cooks, cut the tops off of the bell peppers and core out the seeds and white fibers. Cut the flesh off the tops of bell peppers. Dice the bell pepper tops, and dice the yellow onion. Set these aside.

  4. Brush a light layer of olive oil on the inside and outside of bell peppers. Place in a 9x13 pan and roast with the peppers sitting upright for 25 minutes. While the peppers roast, start cooking the diced onion and bell pepper

  5. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add diced bell peppers and onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions are translucent

  6. Place the cooked bell peppers and onion into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Start cooking the ground turkey in the same pan over medium heat.

  7. Add ground turkey into the pan, and add the cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Scramble the ground meat every few minutes until cooked through. Cooked turkey will have a light brown color, without any pink visible.

  8. Add the cooked turkey into the mixing bowl with the onions and peppers. Add the cooked quinoa, jar of salsa, corn, and ½ the cheese into this bowel as well. Mix well.

  9. Take out the roasted peppers and fill with the turkey and vegetable mixture. Top each bell pepper with the remaining cheese and broil on high for 5 minutes.

Quinoa can be substituted for rice, or any grain of choice. Turkey can be substituted with black beans for a vegetarian option.



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