Updated: Dec 27, 2021
It is no secret that antioxidants help keep the body healthy. It’s believed the antioxidants in food can help prevent cancer, reverse or slow aging, enhance your immune system, increase your energy and improve heart and organ health.
Antioxidants also offer protection from a range of other ailments, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Antioxidants are substances that either prevent or repair the damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS).
The words "antioxidant" and "oxidant" were first used in 1928 by Walter Reichert and Fritz Paneth who, when measuring the oxidation of fats in the body, found that fats could be made to withstand oxidation better if they had been heated first. The term "antioxidant" was coined because it was thought that these substances are good for your health because they help to slow down the process of aging. It is estimated that approximately 10-20% of your total body weight is composed of antioxidant compounds.
Considering how beneficial antioxidants are, it is amazing that more people aren't consuming enough fruits and vegetables, which are excellent sources of antioxidants. Experts recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and veg every day, and often I've read it is preferred between 7 and ten. My advice is to get as much as you can. Closer to ten than five.
Ok, let’s look at how we can get more antioxidants into our daily routine.
1. Start with a drink and Breakfast
Get off to a good start with some lemon water - lemon contains Eriocitrin, the main lemon polyphenol, which is a water-soluble antioxidant and abundant in lemon juice and peel. The morning meal does not have to be so hurriedly thrown together on the run that it is just some burnt toast and jam now does it. While you can do it quickly, be careful to keep it healthy at the same time. Strawberries, or other berries, 100% juice and some coconut yogurt can be mixed together in a blender. Transfer the blend to a cup and enjoy your tasty snack. You've just added one to three servings of fruit to your daily intake. Or add some berries to your cold or hot cereal.
2. Antioxidant snacks
A handful of raisins or a bowl of fresh red grapes would be great for a snack. Dip some strawberries or blackberries in yogurt. You will feel decadent, but the berries provide the color you're looking for. Need some crunch? A dip of baby carrots in hummus may be just the thing and will add some healthy vitamin A. Pecans have a great crunch and are rich in antioxidants. Even some raw dark chocolate is an indulgent but great antioxidant especially homemade with blueberries or goji berries. Let's not forget the antioxidant-packed staple banana.
3. Lunch and dinner
A salad can serve as a great addition to each of your main meals each day, which will improve your health and wellbeing. They need not be boring, and they need not be just salad greens. For a classic green salad, add some red pepper slices, some tomatoes, or cranberries to the Greek salad. Throw in some red cabbage. Lunch can be as simple as a broccoli salad, or as exotic as a rice salad mixed with string beans, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. Add avocado for vitamin E and good fat. Add a nice garlicky, olive oil lemon juice dressing for a few more antioxidants and a bit of punchy zest.
Berry desserts, with or without whipped cream or chocolate, are a delicious way to end your healthy, antioxidant-rich eating day. Pomegranates drizzled in chocolate or added in a muffin base would go down a treat here.
Make tea or coffee your drink of choice instead of soda, as they are packed with antioxidant compounds. If you’re going for a glass of wine opt for red, with dinner, or if you want to switch it up, try a flavorful herb and spice chai tea or chai latte instead.
6. Think outside the 'fruit and veggie' box
In addition to berries, salads, and other common foods that are high in antioxidants, researchers have discovered that russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans contain powerful compounds as well. Researchers say beans may be more antioxidant-rich than blueberries. I know I almost didn’t believe that one myself but hey it’s all good stuff. So now you know, adding beans to your already veggie-filled rice salad will make it even richer in antioxidants than an ordinary salad.
7. Don't overcook
When you prepare vegetables for dinner each night for your family, you think you're doing a good thing, which of course you are. Let's not forget that first and foremost. Nonetheless, if you're overcooking your vegetables, a lot of their beneficial antioxidant properties are being cooked out. The best way to cook vegetables is to steam them (don't boil them) and stop after their bright color is fully developed and most of their bite is still present.
Those who plant and harvest vegetables in their own gardens eat more vegetables and fruits than those who buy their produce from the store, according to experts. Now I can't speak for everyone, but I at least know that I eat far more when I grow my own fruit and veg as it's such a pleasure to get out in the garden, nurture everything and see it grow. To harvest your own food and know exactly where it came from is such a delight. I highly encourage it! If you plant your own little garden, you can watch your garden grow and enjoy the veggies and fruits (literally) of your labor. How amazing is that?
9. Don't let going away ruin your healthy diet.
It's not uncommon for the majority of us to view vacations as a time to disregard healthy eating. But you could also take a different view and think of vacations as opportunities to experience new foods. You can explore the way a chef prepares an interesting vegetable dish by ordering one in a restaurant. Try out new and interesting fruits and veggies that you don't see often at home. Explore, your body and your taste buds will thank you.
10. Develop your cooking skills
The art of cooking involves preparing whole foods, washing and peeling veggies, and paying attention to how they are prepared, not opening takeaway boxes and bags. We as a wellness center get the majority of our antioxidants from eating whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables. If you order out every night, your intake is greatly reduced.
So, try to focus more on what you actually eat, where it comes from, and how it is prepared to ensure you get a healthier, more antioxidant-fuelled way of life.
Article for entertainment and information purposes only. Always seek a medical opinion before trying any new supplements or nutrition routine and never stop taking the medication without speaking to your medical provider.