Legend has it that Paul Bunyan — the mythical, seven-foot-tall, super lumberjack — roamed the upper Midwest with his giant blue ox, Babe.
When they encountered a 200-foot tall logjam on a Wisconsin River, Babe was able to reverse the river, send the logs upstream, and then have them flow gracefully back down, simply by swishing his tail around as he tried to scare off some bothersome flies.
That's a legendary example of an ox relieving stress.
But sometimes ox — as in oxygen — doesn't relieve stress. Instead, it leads to body-wide oxidative distress, triggering excess inflammation, potentially damaging your DNA and RNA, and increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, and more.
Enter antioxidants. These plant-based chemicals are found in fresh fruits and veggies, and eating seven to nine servings of them daily can help tamp down the cell-damaging effects of oxidative stress.
That's why eating antioxidant-rich foods keeps you young.
• Blueberries. Eat a cup a day (organic is best, and frozen are as good as fresh) to improve your heart health even if you already have high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, elevated glucose, abdominal obesity, and/or high triglycerides.
• Red cabbage. Also good are red apples, strawberries, red/purple grapes, beets, and raspberries.
• Sweet potatoes. Plus yellow/orange veggies like carrots, acorn and butternut squash.
• Black coffee also tamps down damaging oxidation.
But the best way to fight oxidative stress is physical activity. So walk to your nearest farmer's market while sipping black coffee and bring home some organic blueberries.