Antioxidants are some of the most important nutrients to include in your daily diet. No doubt you’ve heard all about them, though you don’t really have any idea what they do. In this post, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about antioxidants…
What the Heck are They?
Antioxidants are compounds that are able to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are uncharged molecules that steal electrons from other cells in your body. They can trigger a chain reaction of electron-stealing, and a lot of energy is lost in the process. Free radicals can speed up decay in your body, leading to a wide range of problems. Antioxidants are able to neutralize them, making them some of the best nutrients to protect your body!
What Else Can They Do?
When antioxidants circulate through your body, they provide the electrons needed by the free radicals, preventing them from causing oxidative damage to your cells. They can help to prevent the unstable molecules from affecting your cells and DNA, protecting your body. But the antioxidants can also boost your immune system, improve your heart health, and prevent things like stress, pollution, smoking, and drinking from causing your body to wear out too quickly.
Best Food Sources of Antioxidants
If you want to get more antioxidants in your diet, here are the foods you should be eating:
Pomegranates — These bad boys contain A LOT of polyphenols, a form of antioxidant that is incredibly effective at preventing free radical damage. They’re also an amazing source of the Vitamin C your body needs for a more efficient immune system.
Tomatoes — Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that has proven particularly effective at preventing prostate health problems, including prostate cancer. Cooking tomatoes brings out the antioxidant content, making them one of the only foods that are better for you when cooked.
Berries — Berries are antioxidant superfoods! Their bright colors and rich aromas are the result of a high antioxidant content, and you’ll find that eating blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and pretty much every other type of berry will provide you with amazing antioxidants.
Grapes — The darker and redder the grapes, the higher the antioxidant content. Grapes are packed with polyphenols and flavonoids, making them amazing for your health.
Cocoa — Dark, bittersweet chocolate can be your best friend! It is loaded with antioxidants, specifically heart-smart flavonoids. As if you needed an excuse to eat more chocolate!
Dark, Leafy Greens — Kale, spinach, and chard are just a few of the dark, leafy greens that provide a wicked dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants give the veggies their dark color and strong flavors.
Best Drinks for Antioxidants
Don’t forget the drinks that can provide you with more antioxidants:
Green Tea — Packed with catechins, polyphenols, and other antioxidants, green tea is one of the best sources of the immune-boosting, heart-smart compounds that will protect you from aging and a host of diseases.
Black/White/Oolong Tea — While not as rich in antioxidants as green tea, these other teas still contain decent amounts of the free-radical-scavenging compounds.
Red Wine -– Red wine is made from flavonoid-rich red grapes, meaning there is lots of antioxidants in this drink–specifically one known as resveratrol.
Coffee — Coffee, similar to cocoa, contains a lot of antioxidants. If you drink coffee without adding all the sugar and milk that increases the calorie and fat content, you’ll find that it’s one of the healthiest drinks around. Add a cup or two to your daily diet, and you’ll be giving your body the antioxidants it needs.