Think of antioxidants as the scavengers or tiny pacman of your body. They are compounds in food you digest that slow down or prevent molecules in your body from “oxidating” or creating potentially nasty by-products otherwise known as free radicals.
These free radicals are really normal and exist in all of us as a result of day to day body processes such as metabolism of the food we eat. However, when they exist in excess they can wreck havoc on our cell membranes and other cell structures. Damage caused to cells by free radicals is linked to diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, arthritis, damage to the nerve cells in the brain and the lenses of the eye, and premature ageing.
Factors that increase the level of free radicals in our body include
- Poor diet
- Exposure to pollutants, pesticides and radiation
Enter Antioxidants, which help to neutralise these free radicals and repair the damage they have already done.
Antioxidants are plentiful in fresh fruit and vegetables. They include vitamins A, C and E and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, minerals, phenolic compounds and other natural chemicals with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are another powerful antioxidant and are contained in red wine and tea.
Here are some excellent Antioxidant food sources:
- Beta-carotene – orange foods such as carrots, pumpkin, apricots, sweet potatoes and some leafy greens such as kale
- Lutein – green, leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Lycopene – tomatoes, watermelon, papaya
- Selenium – rice and wheat
- Vitamin A – carrots, sweet potato, milk, egg yolks
- Vitamin E – almonds, vegetable oils, mangoes, nuts, broccoli
- Vitamin C – available in many fruits and vegetables such as parsley, broccoli, berries, oranges, cauliflower, kale
Also beware that if you prefer to pop a pill to supplement these sources – research shows that antioxidant supplements aren’t as effective natural foods in providing your body with antioxidants. So it’s really important to eat a diet rich in all of these antioxidant food sources.
In need of inspiration? Some great Antioxidant Recipes Below:
A great Antioxidant salad recipe here that is guaranteed delicious : http://nourishe.com.au/best-antioxidant-salad-ever/
How about this start to the day with this tasty Fruit Salad : Two Peas and Their Pod Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
This salad contains one of the most powerful antioxidant fruits available – the pomegranate! Antioxidant Vegetable Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad
This salad contains even more Antioxidant POW with added avocado and Orange. Pomegranate, Clementine and Ricotta Salad with Avocado and Toasted Almonds
This Smoothie delivers an excellent Antioxidant punch and is pretty easy to pull together with ingredients from your freezer or pantry : Chia Berry Smoothie
(TIP: Buy berries when in season, wash, place on baking paper and stored in rigid containers in the freezer for 6 months).
Main Photo Credit: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com