What’s the Hype With Antioxidants? – Is It Worth Taking Supplements?

By Wendy Liang, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

You may have heard the phrase “antioxidants prevent cancer” or may have even seen wellness trends on social media hyping up antioxidant consumption.

So what is all this obsession with antioxidants? Should you be concerned about your antioxidant intake?

What are Antioxidants?

  • Chemical molecules that reduce cell damage

Antioxidants are chemical molecules that help reduce cell damage by ridding the body of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can be generated by the body from turning food into energy or from other exposures like exercise, smoking cigarettes, air pollution, and sunlight. High amounts of these free radicals in the body can harm the body as they cause oxidative stress and damage cells and DNA, which can contribute to serious illnesses like cancer.

Health Benefits

  • Neutralize free radicals

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by giving up some of their electrons which stops the chain reaction of free radicals causing oxidative damage. Some examples of antioxidants are vitamins E and C and carotenoids. There have been studies on free radical damage linked to chronic illnesses and some studies on antioxidant consumption decreasing risk of severe diseases like stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Foods That Contain Antioxidants

Even though our body already has some antioxidants to balance free radicals, antioxidants can also be found in colorful foods like berries, other fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods (like legumes).

  • Blueberries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which helps with lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure and has been found to have a correlation with delaying the decline of brain function (Giacolone et.al, 2011).
  • Spinach is a vegetable that contains antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are correlated with protecting the eye against UV damage (Abdel-Aal et.al, 2013).
  • Other foods that are great sources of antioxidants include Beets, Raspberries, Strawberries, Dark chocolate, Beans, Red cabbage, and Kale.

Should We Supplement?

  • Not Recommended

Since antioxidants are abundant in whole foods and various National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies done on antioxidant supplementation reveal positive relations to chronic disease and illnesses, the NIH does not recommend antioxidant supplementation.

Not only have high doses of antioxidants been found to increase the risk of death (Bjelakovic et.al, 2004), our body requires a balance of free radicals and antioxidants since our immune cells use free radicals to combat infections (Hamption et.al, 1998).

So What Then?

  • Consuming whole foods like fruits and vegetables can increase antioxidants and provide other essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

High levels of free radicals can cause harmful damage to our body, but free radicals can be controlled by antioxidants. However, high amounts of antioxidants via supplement have been shown through randomized control trials to show more negative effects on health than positive effects. These studies may also have limitations that we need to keep in mind. Simultaneously, there is much evidence that suggests the consumption of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are not only great sources of antioxidants, but also provide other nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are highly beneficial to our bodies.

Here is more information on antioxidants, myths, and antioxidant supplements, TIME.com and Healthline.com.

Restaurants in Downtown Davis with Veggie-Packed Menus

By Veronica Gomez, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

This year, 2023, I am determined to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. When deciding on my New Year’s Resolution, I pondered any obstacles I would face in achieving my goal. And of course, take-out and dine-in with friends seemed like a barrier, but I found a solution!

I have compiled a list of my favorite restaurants in downtown Davis that allow me, and all Aggies, to get a tasty meal filled with veggies. I did sneak in a few fruits and legumes throughout this list.

  1. Posh Bagel
    Posh Bagel is a quaint breakfast/lunch restaurant that’s perfect for a simple grab n’ go with some friends.Posh Bagel offers their own spin on the iconic salmon lox bagel: “slice lox and cream cheese sandwich”.  Depending on what region you purchase a salmon lox bagel from, it varies in its ingredients. From my experience, the bagel only comes with cream cheese, smoked salmon, onions, and capers. Don’t get me wrong, I love a simple bagel, but Posh Bagels’ variation steps it up to a whole new level by including lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, pickles, and pepperoncini. In case you’re not fond of smoked salmon, any of their lunch sandwiches can also be ordered with these ingredients. Each bite is guaranteed to have a refreshing crunch and they are very generous with the serving of sprouts.
  2. See this helpful summary on sprouts if they are new to you: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-are-the-health-benefits-and-risks-of-eating-sprouts/
  1. Woodstock Pizza & Blaze Pizza
    Many big chain pizza places are limited with veggie options. Luckily, Davis has two popular locations with very diverse options.
    Woodstock pizza is a lively pizzeria which hosts trivia nights and more. Although their veggie toppings aren’t that different from your standard vegetarian pizza, they offer salads that you can have with your pizza!
    Options for salad bases include fresh field greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, and spring mix. Salad toppings are exciting with options such as carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, olive, tomatoes, pineapple, and tomatoes.

    If you prefer your veggies on the pizza, Blaze Pizza allows you to Build-Your-Own-Pizza. With this option, you can order a whole pizza with up to 7 toppings. Some unique options available are: roasted broccoli, basil, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, and spinach.
  2. Chipotle
    Chipotle offers burritos and bowls that are protein and veggie packed. At Chipotle, you can always ask for extra if you really want to meet your health goals like me!
    Veggie options offered at chipotle: black and pinto beans, roasted chili corn salsa, fresh tomato salsa, fajita veggies, romaine lettuce, and guacamole.
  3. Tasty Kitchen
    Last, but certainly not least: Tasty Kitchen. This is a Chinese Restaurant on F street. I am most excited about eating here with friends as I am a huge fan of Chinese food and they have the best menu for incorporating eating vegetables into your social life.
    When you dine-in, you’ll be served on large plates that make it easy to share so you can be sure to sneak some veggies on to everyone’s plate too!
     Tasty Kitchen offers vegetables not yet mentioned: green beans, mixed mushrooms, bailan (Chinese broccoli), and bok choy.
    This is a direct link to their veggie menu:

Do you have a favorite place in Davis to enjoy vegetable-rich cuisine?  Let us know in the comments!

Are Supplemental Detox Effective?

By Lisa Aparicio, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor 

It’s 2023! Time for a new year’s detox right? Wrong. This year we are doing our research and saving time and money. Have popular societal trends convinced you that certain detoxes will help you lose weight, improve your health, or get rid of toxins? Continue reading for misconceptions about the “benefits” of detoxing. 

Popular forms of detox are administered through the use of pills, teas, elixirs, and even recommended drastic dietary measures. These forms of detox cost money and sacrifice. At times advertised detoxes seen on social media can simply be scams and can do more harm than good. How do you know what is safe and effective and what isn’t? I can help to put your mind at ease. You’ll want to read on. 

Let me begin by saying our body is such a fascinating complex-full-functioning “machine”. One of the amazing features of our physiology is to eliminate harmful toxins in our system.

First off, what toxins in our body are we really trying to detoxify anyway? And how are toxins entering our body to begin with? Toxins are typically referred to as something that has a negative effect on your health. In today’s society, there is an increased amount of toxins we are exposing ourselves to. Environmental exposures can be intentional (consuming alcohol) and unintentional (drinking contaminated water or breathing polluted air).  Some examples of potential toxins may include: pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and processed foods etc. The extensive list of toxins also consist of products that you may have never even considered to be toxic such as commercial cleaning agents and personal care products (makeup, deodorants, moisturizers, shampoo etc.) 

Detoxes advertised on social media also claim to have other significant health benefits but is there any research to back up their claims? Are they at least FDA approved? The answer to both of these questions is usually no.  Unless you have a conversation with your physician and they recommend you try something for a specific issue you may be experiencing, you’ll be glad to hear that your body’s very own detoxification system may be the only thing you need! 

Some detox regimens may lead to electrolyte imbalances, kidney damage, diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, nutrient deficiencies, and even cause you to feel lightheaded, weak, and irritable during the duration of the detox. 

Ultimately there is no need to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation by following the latest detox trap. We have multiple organs in our body that are designed to help get rid of toxins, such as our liver, kidney, digestive system, skin, lungs… etc. 

What we can do to help optimize our body’s natural detoxification system:

Implement sustainable practices into our everyday lives to help our bodies be able to naturally detox and begin to feel better than ever. 

Here are 9 different ways you can safely and most effectively support your body with detoxifying and improving overall health. No extra money, not extra time, no extra measures, a simple lifestyle to promote health and longevity:    

  1. Limit alcohol– Keep in mind alcohol is technically a poison we willingly choose to consume. Over time alcohol reduces our liver’s ability to do one of its jobs- detoxify our blood. 
  1. Focus on sleep– With the proper amount of sleep we allow our bodies the time it needs for self maintenance. Our body performs important functions while we sleep and one of them is to remove toxic waste that accumulates throughout the day. 
  1. Drink more water– Staying hydrated is an important part of supporting our body’s detoxification system.  Water transports waste products in our body and expels them through breathing, sweating, and urination.
  1. Reduce sugar and processed foods intake– Increased amounts of added sugars and processed foods can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. This can put a strain on your liver and kidneys, reducing their effectiveness in detoxifying our body.
  1. Eat antioxidant-rich foods– Antioxidant rich foods reduce any damage caused by free radicals and supports our natural detoxification system by decreasing the risk of diseases. Some examples of antioxidant rich foods are: blueberries, strawberries, red cabbage, raspberries, and beans. Here is another good resource with more extensive list to check out: https://www.livestrong.com/article/13764516-foods-high-in-antioxidants/ 
  1. Eat foods high in prebiotics– Keeping our digestive system working properly is also an important part in supporting our detoxification system and immune system. Prebiotics are found in garlic, onion, unripe bananas, and asparagus. Here is a resource that lists 19 natural prebiotic food options: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-best-prebiotic-foods 
  1. Decrease your salt intake– When we consume salt in excess amounts our body begins to retain excess fluid which can lead to bloating. Consuming too much salt and not enough water will prevent our body from detoxing by releasing an antidiuretic hormone that prevents us from urinating and therefore preventing the elimination of waste products from our body. 
  1. Stay active– Daily movement allows our body to detoxify through breath and sweating. It also helps to keep our detoxification system running smoothly by lowering inflammation in our body.
  1. Switch to natural cleaning products and body care– Toxic chemicals can be found in commercial cleaning products used at home. Switching to more natural products on the market or using vinegar and baking soda to clean can reduce toxin exposure. Switching to natural body care products can also limit our chemical exposure and enhance our body’s detoxification system. 

Dairy-free Hot Chocolate for a Cold, Rainy Day

 By Mer Temple Allen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

With the temperatures dropping and the rain pouring down, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate is areat way to enjoy the cold weather (from the comfort of home, of course!). Much store-bought hot chocolate comes with added dairy or other additives you may want to avoid. Additionally, store-bought hot chocolate is often too sweet for my liking, so I prefer to add my sweetener to get my desired level of sweetness. If you are lactose intolerant (like me) and are looking for a simple hot chocolate recipe from home, look no further. 


  • 100% unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • White sugar (or honey if you prefer) 
  • Any milk alternative  


  1. Pour a cup full of any milk alternative into a small pot. I prefer oat milk because it has the thickest consistency and tastes similar to cow’s milk. Heat on medium until it begins to steam. 
  2. Turn down the heat to low, and add three tablespoons of cocoa powder (this amount can vary depending on how chocolatey you want). Stir in with a whisk. 
  3. Add four tablespoons of sugar (or replace with honey) and mix in with a whisk. Feel free to add more sweeteners if it is not sweet enough for your liking. 
  4. Pour into a mug and enjoy! 

Quick and Easy Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds provide a ton of health benefits and are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. They’re great for smoothies or puddings to be enjoyed for a quick snack, dessert, or a delicious, but a filling breakfast to start your day!


  • 2 tbs Chia Seeds
  • ½ cup of plant-based milk (oak milk, almond milk, etc.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Assorted fruits and berries
  • Honey
  • Coconut chips


  1. Add chia seeds and your choice of milk into a glass container with a sealable lid.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and cinnamon and mix until well combined.
  3. Leave in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. 
  4. Once the pudding is set (chia seeds should absorb all the liquid), mix well again. 
  5. Top with fresh berries, coconut chips, and a drizzle of honey and enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 

We all love cookies don’t we? Homemade cookies are fun to make and eat too. Soft, buttery cookies right out of the oven are the best. Making cookies and giving them to friends and family is something that enjoy, but a few of my friends are allergic to dairy and can’t eat cookies that contain butter. This vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is a bit different from the traditional kind, but they still taste as good as the traditional ones! They contain no dairy and eggs so your friends and family members who are vegan can eat them too! 


  • 1 cup of flour (white, oat, or spelt flour)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp milk of choice, plus more if needed
  • 2 tbsp oil (coconut, sunflower, vegetable oil) or melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 tsp of pure vanilla extract


  1. In one large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and then stir in the wet ingredients to form the dough. Continue to mix until the batter is in a dough texture. If the dough is still looking a bit too dry, add 1 to 2 tbsp of milk. 
  2. Make the dough into a big ball then refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or put it in the freezer until the dough is cold.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 F once the cookie dough is chilled. Use parchment paper or grease the baking tray. Form smaller balls of dough and space them out on the baking tray. Make sure to spread them out so they have enough room to spread. 
  4. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes in the oven. They will look underdone so let them cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes. During this time, the cookies will firm up. If the cookies don’t spread, you can use a spoon to smush down on the cookies a bit after baking. 

Source: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/vegan-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/ 

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 

You want to eat chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and banana bread together and taste them together. You’re in the right place! This recipe combines both banana bread and chocolate chip cookies into a bar. This recipe is vegan and allows for a lot of customization. 


  • ½ cup mashed bananas (that’s about one large banana)
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 2 cups of peanut or almond butter 
  • ¾ cup of flour, which could be oat, almond, white, spelt
  • 1 tbsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup of chocolate chips 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13” pan with parchment paper.
  2. Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix them very well. Mixing with a big spoon works well!
  3. Transfer the batter into the pan and spread them out evenly. You can sprinkle more chocolate chips on the surface for more chocolatey-ness! 
  4. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. They will look a bit underdone, but they will start to firm up after they cool.

Source:  https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/banana-chocolate-chip-cookie-bars/

Roasted Vegetable Soup

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s Roasted Vegetable Soup Recipe)


  • 1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled
  • 2 large parsnips (about 2 pounds), peeled
  • 2 small white flesh sweet potatoes
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-12 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare 2 large sheet pans with foil and parchment paper to prevent vegetables from sticking.
  • Cut carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash into 1-1 ½ inch cubes or rounds.
  • Place all cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans (vegetables do not need to be sorted).
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender, turning them once if they begin to brown. Let cool.
  • In several batches, puree the roasted vegetables and chicken stock in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  • Pour the puree into a large pot after each batch. Thin with more chicken stock as necessary to reach desired soup consistency.
  • Add curry powder, ground white pepper, nutmeg, and ground ginger to soup. Mix well and reheat. Adjust seasonings to taste.


  • Use organic vegetables when available.
  • Recipe may be halved, using 1 small butternut squash, 1 large white flesh sweet potato, and 1 pound each of carrots and parsnips.
  • This recipe is very versatile. Balance of vegetable quantity and type may be easily adjusted to taste.

Inoculation of Yogurt

After my friends and I finished class at Meyer Hall, we decided to get lunch at one of the food trucks by the Silo. After purchasing our food, we entered the Silo and sat down and started eating. We got into a conversation about breakfast and we were all sharing about what foods we eat for breakfast. One of my friends shared that she eats yogurt with fruits everyday. She added that she makes her own yogurt. My other friend and I were shocked. When we asked how she makes her own, she said it was very simple, and it was indeed very simple. She told me that she just adds live active yogurt to milk and lets it settle. After a while, a new batch of yogurt is created. I couldn’t believe this. Being able to make yogurt from yogurt was news to me. In this article, I’ll be sharing a recipe that I found online that explains how you can make your own yogurt from yogurt. All you need are two ingredients: Milk and live active yogurt which you can buy from the grocery store!

Homemade Yogurt 


  • ½ gallon of milk (8 cups of milk) – 2% or whole milk produces thick, creamy yogurt, but skim milk could be used too
  • ½ cup of yogurt that contains live, active cultures (this could be purchased in normal grocery stores!)


  • 3 quart or larger dutch oven or heavy saucepan with a lid
  • Thermometer that can be inserted into food
  • Small bowl or a measuring cup 


  1. Pour all of the milk into the large saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high heat. Warm the milk to 200F, right before boiling. Don’t let the milk scorch. Mix the milk gently. 
  2. Let the milk cool down to 112F-115F which is about warm to the touch. To prevent a layer of skin from forming on the surface, stir the milk occasionally. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with a cup of warm milk. Mix the yogurt and milk in order to thin out the yogurt. Stir until the yogurt dissolves in the milk.
  4. Transfer the mixture into the saucepan of milk. Gently stir the mixture. This is the inoculation step!
  5. Move the saucepan into a turned-off oven. Cover the saucepan with its lid. Turn on the oven light or use towels to wrap the pot. This ensures that the milk is kept warm. The ideal temperature of the milk is 110F. You can also use a yogurt maker or a dehydrator that is set to 110F.
  6. Keep the yogurt in the oven for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. The time will depend on your yogurt preferences, the type of culture you used, and the temperature of the yogurt. The yogurt will taste more tart the longer you let the yogurt sit. Check after 4 hours if this is your first time making yogurt. It’s okay if the temperature of the milk drops below 110F. It may take a bit longer for the yogurt to set and the yogurt product may be a bit loose. You don’t need to worry about the milk spoiling because the bacteria in the yogurt will prevent spoilage. Until the yogurt is fully set, avoid stirring the yogurt.
  7. Once the yogurt is at a texture and tastes to your liking, take it out of the oven. You can either whisk the water that formed at the top or remove the water. Whisk the yogurt so that it has a creamer texture. Transfer the yogurt to containers and refrigerate them. Homemade yogurt lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge. 




30 Minute Butternut Squash Soup


  • 1 + 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 medium onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1⁄2-inch to 1-inch pieces (about 1 small butternut squash)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (400 ml) can coconut milk
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • pecans, chopped (for topping)
  • fresh herbs (for toppings)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and for about 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the squash, salt and pepper to the pot and cook for 6-7 minutes while stirring.
  3. Next, add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Stir this and then after it starts to boil cover the pot and let it simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender or blender. If the soup is too watery, put it back on medium low heat and stir occasionally to thicken. If the soup is too thick, add in some water to thin it out.
  5. Add salt, pepper, chopped pecans and thyme to garnish.

Sources: https://www.aheadofthyme.com/30-minute-butternut-squash-soup/