In her just-released book, The O2 Diet,weight-loss expert and WH contributor Keri Glassman, R.D., reveals the powerful benefits of eating foods that are packed with antioxidants.
When it comes to eating healthy and losing weight, we’ve been focusing on the wrong set of numbers, says nutritionist Keri Glassman, R.D. This month, Glassman launches a revolutionary way of eating in her new book, The O2 Diet, which is based on the foods that have the highest antioxidant activity levels. This plan will make it super-simple for you to shed pounds, look fabulous, boost your energy, and amp up your brainpower.
Glassman’s plan is based on the ORAC scale, a scientific value that represents the antioxidant levels of foods. (ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity.) Using this scale, she has devised a diet that gets you 30,000 ORAC points a day, 10 times the current recommended level of 3,000. It’s those mega ORAC points that scoop up free radicals, the damaging rogue elements in our bodies that contribute to everything from wrinkles and brain fog to cancer and heart disease.
And you can say good-bye to calorie counting: By focusing on high ORAC scores, you’ll chow down on foods that are healthy and have the right proportion of nutrients, so the extra weight will come off more easily.
In her book, Glassman explains how certain high-ORAC fruits and vegetables have specific powers. Load up on these antioxidant superstars every time you hit the grocery store—they’ll help you bring out your healthy best in these five ways.
1 LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT TRYING
On the O2 Diet, estimate that you’ll lose about two to three pounds a week. But instead of worrying about the pounds, focus on ORAC points and the pounds will melt away. These are just three of the O2 Diet’s weight-loss wonders:
ARTICHOKES: At only 60 calories each, they’re a calorie bargain. Artichokes are also super-high on the ORAC scale—7,900 points—and they contain phytochemicals that may lower cholesterol levels.
LEMON WATER: Lemon peel contains pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to help with weight loss. Add an ounce of lemon juice and some zest to each of your eight daily glasses of water (which will help you feel fuller), and you’ll add 3,200 ORAC points.
RED GRAPEFRUIT: One study found that people who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds over 12 weeks, while those who drank grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds. The red variety has more of the cancer-protecting antioxidant lycopene. Half a grape-fruit has 1,900 ORAC points.
2 MAKE YOUR SKIN GLOW
While no food can turn back the clock, some can perk up your looks and slow the aging process.
FIGS: Eating a handful of dried figs increases the amount of antioxidants in your blood for four hours, much longer than many other foods. Two small figs have about 2,700 ORAC points.
RED BELL PEPPERS: The unique combination of large amounts of vitamins A, C, and E make red bell peppers a skin superfood. Half a cup adds 600 ORAC points.
WATERMELON: This lycopene-rich fruit provides 33 percent more protection against sunburn than other fruits. (You still have to wear sunscreen though!) One cup of this diced melon has 200 ORAC points.
3 BOLSTER YOUR BODY
Certain antioxidants have been shown to fight cancer, boost immunity, and keep bones strong.
BEANS: They’re loaded with phytochemicals (including saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid), which may protect cells from damage that potentially causes cancer, reports the American Institute for Cancer Research. Half a cup has 7,800 ORAC points.
PRUNES: These wrinkly little dried fruits are rich in vitamin K and a top source of the mineral boron, and we need both for strong bones. A three-prune serving gives you 1,900 ORAC points.
4 WARD OFF HEART DISEASE
Young women tend to be oblivious to heart disease, but that attitude itself is a big risk. How you eat today helps predict how healthy your heart will be 30 years from now.
CHERRIES: Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that the anthocyanins in dark cherries reduce belly fat and lower cholesterol and blood sugar; one serving packs 3,500 ORAC points.
DARK CHOCOLATE: Rich in flavonoids, chocolate is believed to promote heart health by reducing platelet activation, affecting the relaxation capabilities of blood vessels. One ounce of dark chocolate has 5,900 ORAC points.
5 BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER
The neural pathways in our brains are growing and improving all the time. Eat the right foods and you’ll be able to concentrate better, remember more, and feel calmer.
BLUEBERRIES: They may improve memory, cognition, and balance. Researchers believe that blueberries (9,700 ORAC points per one-cup serving) reduce inflammation and can help us overcome the normal effects of brain aging.
CINNAMON: Researchers believe that cinnamon may inhibit certain Alzheimer’s disease cells. One teaspoon of cinnamon adds 7,000 ORAC points.
PLUMS: These juicy treats decrease anxiety-related behaviors, and researchers think they may protect against depression. One plum adds 4,100 ORAC points to a meal.
Adapted from The O2 Diet: The Cutting Edge Antioxidant- Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin, and Beautiful, by Keri Glassman, R.D., Rodale 2009.