Antioxidants are an important part of healthy eating. A diet rich in these naturally occurring compounds helps our bodies fight other naturally occurring compounds called free-radicals. Free-radicals can accelerate the ageing process and cause disease by damaging our body’s fats, proteins and cells. There’s nothing you can do to eliminate the production of free-radicals but don’t despair, a diet rich in antioxidants helps keep these damaging chemicals at bay.
Below are my top 10 antioxidant rich foods to keep your body feeling healthy and feeling young!
Rich in vitamin C, a strong anti-oxidant, strawberries are a reliable ally in your fight against free-radicals. They’re also very high in fibre and low in kilojoules making them great for managing your appetite. Great thrown into a smoothie, chopped and thrown on top of your breakfast, dipped in dark chocolate or just by themselves as a delicious snack, strawberries are my No. 1.
Herbs are rich in antioxidants known as polyphenols. Use them in your cooking as often as possible. They are a great way of adding flavour to food which boost the enjoyment and satisfaction of your meals, making them a vital part of healthy AND tasty diet.
Capsicums (Bell Peppers)
Another fantastic source of vitamin C, capsicums are a great way to create a beautiful colourful meal as they come in 4 different colourful varieties: green, red, yellow and orange. Slice them up and throw them into stir-fries, dip them in greek yoghurt for a tasty snack or toss them into a salad or on a sandwich.
Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato are all fantastic sources of another type of antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A by the body and has powerful antioxidant action against free-radicals. Make home made chips from sweet potato instead of regular potato, snack on carrot sticks and regularly serve something ‘orange’ with your dinner like steam carrots and baked pumpkin.
Orange fruit contains both vitamin C and beta-carotene making them another great source of antioxidants. Oranges, mandarins and mangos are favourites that come to mind and are fantastic in fruit salads, deserts and or just by themselves as sweet, juicy, summer time snacks.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard at some point about the antioxidant power of berries. These little fruits pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Even the dried versions offer a decent antioxidant dose. Add blueberries, goji berries, raspberries, cherries, prunes and inca-berries to smoothies, breakfast, desserts, homemade muesli bars, muffins and really… whatever you like!
Dried Herbs & Spices
Like fresh herbs, dried herbs and spices are a fantastic source of the antioxidants known as polyphenols. You do need to eat a significant amount of them to receive the full benefit of their antioxidant capabilities so use them quite liberally. Try adding them to your own marinades, curry pastes and rubs. If you’re reducing your intake of oil, butter and sugar to improve your health, dried herbs and spices are a fantastic way to add flavour to a dish and not compromise on taste.
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and chestnuts are known for their provision of healthy fats but also provide antioxidant action due to their high polyphenol content. Nuts make great snacks, especially mixed with fresh or dried fruit. A great addition to muesli, salads, stir fries and curries, nuts are definitely an all-rounder.
Olives and olive oil are another great source of antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil makes a great salad dressing base, is a better alternative for cooking and is also a great source of mono and polyunsaturated fats, the healthier type of fat.
Tea including both black and green varieties are also a great source of antioxidants, just like the Lipton ads used to tell us all those years ago. A cup of green camomile tea is the perfect way to relax after a long day. Sip on a freshly brewed aromatic tea instead of rummaging the cupboards for biscuits and cakes.
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