That is a great question! But to answer that question, we must first identify what antioxidants are, what they do, and why you would want to consume as many as possible.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are a substance that inhibits oxidation. They are often added to foods to keep them fresher longer. Doesn’t it sound like we are talking about preservatives? Yes! Sometimes various antioxidants are added to foods such as cheese to keep them fresh for a longer period.
However, a lot preservatives are not as good for you as antioxidants are. And getting antioxidants from sources where they naturally reside in much better for you than consuming foods that have them artificially added to them as a preservative. I will go into detail about the negative effects that consuming foods with artificial preservatives has on your health a little later.
Many foods are natural sources of antioxidants and while their prime function when they are in that food is to keep it fresher longer, once it is consumed by the human body, it works in different ways. Their ability to inhibit oxidation no longer serves to keep the food fresh – because the food itself has been digested already. Instead, the consumed antioxidants work to keep cells in the body protected from the damage caused by oxidation, since the oxidation inhibiting effects are still present even after consumption.
Why Should I Strive To Consume As Many Antioxidants As Possible?
As I stated before, antioxidants protect your cells from harmful damage caused by oxidation. This oxidation can come in the form of free radical damage, which a whole bunch of common foods can cause. Remember when I was talking about artificial preservatives being bad for you? Here is why. Most of the artificial preservatives added to foods like bacon, salami, and sausage will end up causing more free radical damage to the cells in your body. Replacing those foods with antioxidant rich foods like apples and strawberries can make your cells healthier and stronger.
Another reason you should consume a ton of antioxidants is because they have cancer fighting properties. Preventing oxidation from damaging your cells keeps them strong and healthy and reduces the chances of them becoming cancerous and spreading to other cells. On top of that, some antioxidants have the ability to kill cancer cells.
So, How Can I Consume More Antioxidants?
The short and sweet answer is to drop unhealthy junk foods from your diet and replace them with super healthy food that are packed with antioxidants. But, you did not come to this article for a short and sweet article. So I compiled a list of things you can do to ensure that your antioxidant intake is sufficient and that your cells will be protected from harmful free radical damage.
1) Stay far away from foods that score high on the glycemic index. This means that they would have a lot of artificial carbohydrates, which are NOT good for you to eat. Eating these kinds of foods will lead to damage caused by free radicals.
2) As I stated earlier, stay away from bacon, salami, and various kinds of sausages. The artificial preservatives in these meats will also cause free radical damage to your cells.
3) Have fruits such as apples, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and kiwi as snacks instead of processed snacks like gummies and cakes. You could make a delicious fruit smoothie or even a refreshing fruit salad.
4) If you drink alcohol, try to cut down on how much you drink. Alcohol beverages contain what I like to call “empty calories”. This means that the calories are not used by the body at all and are just stored as fat and cause weight gain. In addition to that, drinking alcoholic beverages puts your cells at a higher risk of damage caused by free radicals that form due to the alcohol consumption.
5) This one is a huge no-brainer: Add more foods that are rich in antioxidants to your diet! I already mentioned earlier that you should eat fruits as a snack instead of processed junk food. And that is a great start. But your entire diet from breakfast to dinner should be full of antioxidant rich foods. Did you know that vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are all a kind of antioxidant? Eat foods that are packed with those vitamins and you will be doing your cells a huge favor.
6) Go nuts! Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts are all rich sources of vitamin E, which as I just stated, is a kind of antioxidant. Nuts have also been recently proven to be a great snack food for those looking to lose weight, as they can boost your metabolism.
7) Various herbs can be consumed in the form of herbal teas to increase your intake of antioxidants. Herbs such as ginger, ginkgo, grape seed extract, and rosemary all contain antioxidants and when consumed in tea form will further relieve any stress caused to your cells from oxidation.
8) Drink tea. It does not even have to be herbal tea. You could have good old green tea and still be doing your cells a big favor. Did you know that green tea contains an antioxidant known as polyphenol? Now you do!
9) Try to eat far less red meat. I am not saying that you have to cut it out of your diet all together, but at least drastically cut down on how much of it you eat if you do eat a lot. Red meat is an incredibly rich source of iron which makes it very susceptible to oxidation.
10) Find foods that contain a type of antioxidant known as flavonoids. Some flavonoid-rich foods are milk, cherries, red wine, and various kinds of leafy green vegetables. Oh, and natural unprocessed chocolate (not Hershey’s!) is another rich source of flavonoids so if you can get your hands on that, you just found a healthy delicious snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Who would have thought that chocolate would be good for you?
Antioxidant-Rich Diet Tips Conclusion
And there you have it. Now you know all about antioxidants and how you can add more to your diet. There is no better time than right at the start of a new year to make these changes to your life. Set some goals and maybe a late New Year’s resolution for yourself to try to limit the amount of free radical producing foods that you consume. And make another goal to try to increase the amount of antioxidant-packed foods that you consume on a daily basis. Good luck!