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  • Writer's pictureChad Arterburn

Amazing Antioxidants and 10 Ways to Get More into Your Diet



What are Antioxidants?


The prefix 'anti' means against, in opposition to, or corrective in nature. In this case, the 'anti' in antioxidant describes the effect these chemicals have against oxidants.


Oxidants, usually referred to as 'free radicals' are produced as a natural by-product of the millions of biochemical processes undertaken by the body every minute. The same life-giving oxygen that supports all the functions of the body creates these harmful by-products which cause cell damage, usually to DNA, fats, and proteins.


Free radicals also enter the body through external influences such as exposure to the sun, pesticides, and other kinds of environmental pollution. In addition, their levels are increased by mental and physical stress, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, unhealthy foods, and cigarette smoke.


In much the same way as oxidation causes rust on cars, oxidation inside the body causes a breakdown of cells. If the amount of free radical oxidation in the body is allowed to rise to an unhealthy level, it can result in extensive damage to cellular components and can accelerate the ageing process.


More importantly, it may contribute to a wide range of degenerative illnesses and reduce the body's ability to deal with other problems, including cardiovascular malfunction, eye disease, and cancer.


Additionally, it may result in a compromised immune system, leading to immunological disorders and a lessening of the body's ability to heal wounds and overcome infections. Some studies indicate possible links to arthritis and similar chronic conditions.

Antioxidants counter these effects by binding with free radicals before they can cause damage. They then convert them into non-damaging biochemical substances, assisting enormously with the reparation of cellular damage.


Certain antioxidant enzymes are produced within the body. The most well-known of these are catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione:


Catalase converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.


Superoxide dismutase breaks antioxidants down into hydrogen peroxide.


Glutathione is a detoxifying agent, changing the form of toxins so that they are easily eliminated by the body.


Other antioxidants can be consumed through the diet. Some of the better known include the antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E.


Minerals such as selenium, zinc, glutathione, and co-enzyme Q10 may also have antioxidant properties, and so may flavonoids such as cranberry, some amino acids, plus organic extracts from milk thistle and the tree known as ginkgo biloba.


A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables provides a large supply of these antioxidants, to help eliminate damaging free radicals. The highest concentrations are found in fruits and leafy green vegetables, such as carrots, orange and red peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.


Cooking can destroy some antioxidants and interfere with the body's ability to absorb them, so eating raw vegetables and fruit, and including sprouts in the diet can help. Steaming vegetables as opposed to frying, microwaving, or boiling is also a good idea.


Antioxidants are best taken in combination, since single antioxidants, such as vitamin E, need other vitamins to work as an effective antioxidant. Food and natural supplements may therefore provide the most bioavailable source of antioxidants. Natural products from the rainforests of the world are some of the best sources of natural antioxidants ever found. Fruits like the acai berry are amazing in the health world because of the wide range and high number of antioxidants they contain, making them a perfect source of antioxidants. It’s no wonder that the acai berry has been dubbed one of the top 10 “superfoods” in the world.


So, it’s no secret that antioxidants are incredibly beneficial to good health. 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 other organ health.


Given all we know about antioxidants and their beneficial properties, it’s amazing more people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, the primary sources of antioxidants. Experts recommend a minimum combination of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily but say getting 7-10 servings is even better.


There are 10 steps to getting more antioxidants into your diet.


1.Breakfast


Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hurried toaster tart on the way out the door. Throw some strawberries, 100% juice and yogurt into a blender; pour your delicious mixture into a cup and head out the door. You’ve just added one to three servings of fruits to your daily intake. Or throw some berries onto your cold or hot cereal.


Say you truly have no time in the morning and usually grab something on the run. Even the Golden Arches can be of some help here. Order a fruit and yogurt parfait and some apple slices. For about $2, you have a breakfast providing one to two servings of fruit.


2.Snacks


Here’s an easy way to get more antioxidants in your diet. How about a handful of raisins for a snack, or some fresh red grapes? Dip some strawberries in yogurt. You’ll feel decadent, but the berries provide the color you’re looking for. Need crunch? How about some baby carrots dipped in hummus? Consider a handful of pecans for crunch and a nice antioxidant boost.


3.Lunch and dinner


It might sound trite but adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. If you’re going classic, add some red pepper slices to your green salad, some tomatoes to the Greek salad, or tart cranberries to your field greens. Whip up a broccoli salad for lunch or be adventurous and mix up a rice salad with a mélange of fresh vegetables like string beans, tomatoes, peppers, and red onions.


4.Dessert


Berries, with or without whipped cream or chocolate are a wonderful way to end your day of healthy, antioxidant-rich eating.


5.Beverages


Replace your soda with tea or coffee, both of which boast antioxidant compounds. Have a glass of wine with dinner, or for a real change of pace, pour a glass of chai tea.


6.Think outside the box


We know we can get our antioxidant fix from berries, salads and the like, but researchers say powerful antioxidants can also be found in a variety of unexpected foods, like russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans. The beans, in fact, may have more antioxidant power than blueberries, experts say. So, to your rice salad full of vegetables, add some beans for even more antioxidants.


7.Cook lightly


You think you’re being good, preparing vegetables each night for your family’s dinner. But if you’re overcooking the vegetables, you’re cooking out a lot of the beneficial properties of the antioxidants. Steam (don’t boil) vegetables and stop cooking them when they will have all of their bright color and most of their bite.


8.Plant a garden


Experts believe that people who plant and harvest vegetables from their own yards are far more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits than people who buy their produce from the store. So, plant a garden, watch it grow and eat the fruits (literally) of your labor.


9.Take your healthy diet on vacation


Too many of us consider going on vacation an opportunity to take a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. Think of vacation as a way to be introduced to new foods. Order an interesting vegetable dish in a restaurant and then pay attention to how the chef prepared the dish.


10.Learn to cook


If you’re cooking, you’re not opening bags and boxes. Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods, and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering out every night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables that provide the base for our antioxidant intake.


There you have it. I hope this article has been beneficial and informative for you.


Until next time, make it a healthy day.


For a better tomorrow,

Coach Chad

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