Foods with Antioxidants
Best Healthy Foods with Antioxidants: How you can boost your antioxidant intake without taking any supplements. I’m going to talk about antioxidants and why they’re important. Just to provide a little bit of background information I am going to start the article
So the first thing is – what is an antioxidant? Now I could explain this with a scientific definition but that’s not going to be very useful, so let’s simplify this and I’m going to explain this with an example. Now to understand what an antioxidant is you need to understand what oxidation is first. So let’s say you have an apple and you cut it in half. What happens? It starts to brown and that process is oxidation.
Now if you’re handy in the kitchen, you probably know a little trick that is to apply lemon juice or lime juice on the apple… on the cut portion and that prevents that oxidation or browning from happening so quickly. Now, why is it that the lemon juice or lime juice works? It’s because it has an antioxidant in it. It has vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant. An antioxidant can basically slow down or reduce the negative effects of oxidation. Now that you know what an antioxidant is, let’s talk about why they’re important for humans.
We know they’re important for the apple to prevent browning, but what does it do in our bodies? So when we don’t get enough antioxidants in our diet and we don’t produce enough antioxidants in our bodies, we undergo something known as oxidative stress and this oxidative stress is linked to many many different diseases. It’s linked to diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, the list goes on. Basically, to have a healthy body, we should have enough antioxidants in our system. Now, this leads me to the next thing I wanted to talk about.
So antioxidants are healthy – does that mean we should take supplements? The answer to this in most cases is NO. Many of the studies that were done on antioxidants in the form of supplements have not had very good results. Some were either ineffective and some even harmed people who were taking them. So my advice and the advice of many experts is not to get your antioxidants through supplements…. there just not enough research to say that it’s a good idea. It’s better to get them from food. One more thing, before we dive into the tips and I think this is really important because not many people know this. Our bodies actually make their own antioxidants. There are actually ways in which you can boost your body’s own production of antioxidants. I’m actually not going to talk about that in this article. This article is boosting your intake through diet. Anyway, let’s begin.
Number one is to eat more fruits and veggies. This is actually a rather obvious one. Most of us know that in order to get more antioxidants, we should eat fruits and veggies. However, there are a few nuances, so I wanted to discuss those. The first thing is the quantity. A lot of us think we’re eating enough fruits and veggies but sadly the truth is only 10% of people eat enough fruit and veggies. We should be eating at least five servings a day as a minimum, if not more. For me, the easiest way to remember to eat more fruits and veggies has been to use the half-plate method. If you’re not familiar with what it is… it’s basically a method that a lot of dietary associations recommend where half your plate is fruits and veggies. If you can do this consistently or somewhat consistently – at least two out of three meals, you’re going to get enough fruits and veggies.
The second thing to remember about fruits and veggies is that they’re not all equal. Some have more antioxidants than others. I don’t think it’s necessary to only eat antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies. It’s actually a good idea to get a balance and a variety otherwise you’re going to get bored. But there are a few that have a lot more antioxidants than other foods and I like to incorporate these foods on a regular basis.
I have one more tip about fruits and veggies. If you can, try to buy local whenever you can. I do recognize this doesn’t work for everybody- depends on where you live, but if you are able to buy local you’ll be able to get fruits and veggies and actually do have a lot more antioxidants. Because when fruits and veggies sit on the grocery shelves, they start to lose their nutrition. So if you’re buying local… you’re buying something that’s so fresh.. it’s usually harvested at peak freshness, so you’regoing to get a lot more nutrition out of that.
Number two is to eat more herbs And this is something that I honestly don’t do enough of myself. I don’t know why I always forget to buy the herbs. I just bypass that section in the grocery store, but now I’m making a concerted effort because I know that they’re actually really good for you. if you just want to keep things simple, just chop up the herbs and put them on your salads, your soup bowls, or your curry bowls or something where the herbs can actually add a little bit more flavor.
Number three is to eat more spices. And this is actually my favorite tip because I love spices. I don’t love spicy food. I can’t handle the heat but I love spices. My current spiced drawer has more than 40 spices, so needless to say it’s something I feel very passionate about. Now when it comes to spices, there are different ones that you can pick and choose according to your taste profile. Everyone’s a bit different. It can be something as simple as just sprinkling it on top of your meal or you can cook with it.
Number four – get your antioxidants from your beverages. Now there are many different beverages that have antioxidants. I’m going to cover three categories. So the first is coffee. Coffee actually has quite a few antioxidants …so much so that the average American gets the majority of their antioxidants from coffee. Now needless to say coffee is not for everybody. Some people don’t tolerate it well. They don’t do well. So if you’re one of those people – avoid coffee. I don’t like coffee- I don’t drink it. There are so many other choices for you out there.
The second category is tea- both herbal teas and regular tea. So green tea is particularly high in antioxidants – if you enjoy that, that’s a good choice. I am NOT a fan of daily green tea – I just don like it that much. I’ll have it once in a while. What I do like is herbal teas. Peppermint tea is quite high in antioxidants. Lemon balm tea is another option.
Now if you’re not a tea person and you’re not a coffee person – you still have options. Your option is hot chocolate. Unsweetened of course. You don’t want to add sugar because that just negates the whole point. So have unsweetened or chocolate…dark chocolate.. hmm hot chocolate that’s what I meant to say. Not dark chocolate.Hot chocolate. So unsweetened hot chocolate can be a good choice.
Number five is to limit highly processed foods. In general, people who eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods will intake more antioxidants from their diet. When foods are processed, especially when they’re highly processed, they don’t have any antioxidants left. So my recommendation is trying to stick to whole foods whenever you can or make them the majority of your diet. And there are also things like nuts and seeds that are high in antioxidants. A lot of people just think it’s fruits and veggies but nuts and seeds are high as well as beans and legumes. I hope you enjoyed this article and you learned something new. If you did, please let me know in the comments below – what is your favorite fruit or veggie? I’m just curious to know what people like.