Antioxidants 101: Q&A with Dr. Cooke

Antioxidants 101: Q&A with Dr. Cooke

Q&A between Brightland + Dr. Elke Cooke, MD.


Brightland: What exactly are antioxidants?

​Dr. Cooke: Antioxidants are nutrients that scavenge or eat up free radicals.

Brightland: What are the effects of oxidation in our bodies?

​Dr. Cooke: The action of free radicals leads to impaired cell function and oxidation which is comparable to “rusting” of metal, or the surface of a cut apple that turns brown over time. This same process of oxidation occurs inside of our bodies. Oxidation is at the root of many ailments such as heart disease, Alzheimers’ Disease, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, inflammatory disease, hepatitis etc.

Brightland: I’m super healthy and young – do I need to think about antioxidants and oxidation yet?

Dr. Cooke: Even in healthy individuals the effects of oxidation are thought to explain the process of aging.

Brightland: What foods do we get most antioxidants from?

Dr. Cooke: We get most antioxidants from our diet. Some superstar antioxidant foods are (but not limited to) wild berries, green tea, leafy green vegetables, cocoa, cilantro, cinnamon, turmeric and olive oil. These foods contain high levels of Vit A, C and E, as well as beta-carotenes, bioflavonoids and trace minerals such as selenium which are potent antioxidants.

Brightland: How much antioxidant-rich food should we be eating everyday?

Dr. Cooke: The need for antioxidants poses a delicate balance as too many anti- oxidants can have adverse effects. Therefore it is best to get your antioxidants from food and stick to the most colorful choices or consult with a functional medicine practitioner who will be able to determine your individual need for antioxidants

Brightland: What’s the relationship with extra virgin olive oil and antioxidants?

Dr. Cooke: Extra virgin olive oil is rich in these substances and therefore has a strong antioxidant effect with wide reaching benefits including cancer prevention, cardiovascular health and anti-aging.

Brightland: What’s your favorite antioxidant-rich breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Dr. Cooke: We always add organic berries and seeds to our breakfast. I try to keep it seasonal, so in the winter we like pomegranate seeds and hemp seeds whereas right now strawberries and blueberries are starting to come into season. For lunch and dinner I try to incorporate salmon and colorful veggies. We play a game with the kids and see if they can come up with a "rainbow of colors" on their plate. My antioxidant rich desert is a small square of 88% chocolate.

Brightland: What are you reading right now?

Dr Cooke: I tend to have my nose in several different books at a time. Right now I am reading Dr Mark Hyman's new book "Food-What the heck should I eat"' so that I can recommend it to my patients. Also "Parenting beyond your capacity" by R. Joiner and C. Nieuwhof as well as Brene Brown's new book "Braving the Wilderness". I love her concept of "Strong Back, Soft Front and Wild Heart".


Brightland: ​What does living in a golden state mean to you?

Dr. Cooke: This to me is comparable to Tony Robbins' concept of living in a beautiful state. So to me this means finding a flow in my work and focusing on what's good. In Tony's words : "What's not good is always available to us but so is what's good"

Elke Cooke, M.D. practices anti-aging and preventive medicine at BodyLogicMD of Sacramento where she uses individual, customized wellness programs tailored to address each patient's specific, personal needs. Dr. Cooke is trained in Emergency Medicine as well as Functional Medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine,A4M, the Kalish Mentorship Program and the Clinical Development Program with Dr Kara FitzgeraldYou can find her on