Antioxidants have been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to health for many years. They are essential for our overall health and wellbeing and offer many benefits when incorporated into our daily diets. Despite the discussion around antioxidants, many of us don’t know much about them, how they work or how easy they are to get into our diet.
Why Are Antioxidants Important?
Antioxidants are a type of molecule which fight off free radicals in the body. These free radicals can cause harm if their levels rise too high. They have been linked to various illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The body creates its own antioxidants that are used to defend against these free radicals, but the best way to get them is through foods.
There are some environmental and lifestyle factors which promote excessive free radicals in the body, increasing the need for antioxidants. These include cigarette smoke, air pollution, alcohol, high blood sugar and more. Getting the right levels of antioxidants is vital for keeping free radicals in check and promoting a healthy body.
How To Get Antioxidants Into Each Meal?
Antioxidants play an important role in the survival of every living thing. All plants and animals have defences against oxidative damage and free radicals. This means that antioxidants can be found in a range of different plants and animal products. There are also a lot of non-essential antioxidants that occur in these foods, which although aren’t vital for our bodies, they do provide many health benefits.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting enough antioxidants is to incorporate them into every meal you eat. Because free radicals and other nasty things can get into our bodies all throughout the day, keeping antioxidant levels up during the day is essential.
Getting antioxidants into every meal might sound like a challenge, but there are so many food choices that are high in antioxidants. Here are a few ideas for getting antioxidants in every meal;
We all love a cup of tea in the morning, and tea is a great source of antioxidants. English breakfast tea contains two phytochemicals that are antioxidants. These are anthocyanin and pro anthocyanin. Not only that but tea has a healthy dose of catechins, which are antioxidants that can prevent cell damage.
Green tea, in particular, is well known for being a powerful source of antioxidants. It contains many phytochemicals and catechins that protect the body from free radicals.
A hearty kale salad is not only a tasty option for lunch but is also packed full of antioxidants. Kale is a leafy green vegetable from the same family as broccoli and cauliflower and offers many nutritious benefits. It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin C, and antioxidants.
If you opt for red varieties of kale for your lunch, you could boost your antioxidant intake even further as they are said to contain twice as many as their green counterparts. Combine your kale salad with a healthy dose of spinach for even more antioxidants in your meal.
If you get peckish before dinner and need something to keep you going, then a berry smoothie is an excellent afternoon snack. Combine different types of berries for a smoothie that is high in antioxidants.
Blueberries contain more antioxidants than many other fruits and vegetables, whilst also being packed with many other nutrients. Strawberries will give your smoothie a delicious sweetness and also provide you with plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants. Raspberries are also a great addition as they contain antioxidants that have been linked to reduced chances of heart disease and cancer.
Pair your favourite dinner with a side of red cabbage for a healthy, antioxidant-rich meal. Red cabbage contains four times more antioxidants than regular cabbage, as well as containing many other essential vitamins. This is because the delicious vegetable contains anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that give red cabbage its distinctive colour. Anthocyanins are also thought to reduce inflammation and protect against diseases.
A healthy, antioxidant-rich diet doesn’t mean it’s all fruit and vegetables. Dark chocolate is a healthy choice for dessert and is also packed full of antioxidants. Chocolate with 70% cacao or more is high in flavonoids, which can prevent cancer and promote heart health. When consumed in small amounts, dark chocolate offers many health benefits. Bake dark chocolate into a healthy dessert, or enjoy a piece or two in the evening to up your antioxidant intake.