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Health Boost – Antioxidants

If you want to boost your health, have more energy and look good, then you want to eat as many antioxidants as you can each day. Most of us have heard of antioxidants but maybe don’t know why they are so important. So let’s have a quick look at what they are and how you can get more of them each day.

What Are Antioxidants And Why Do We Need Them?

Antioxidants are molecules that protect and prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are nasty unstable molecules created naturally within the body as a by product of oxygen use. We need antioxidants for healthy hearts, healthy cholesterol levels, and a sharp memory.

When we don’t have a sufficient supply of antioxidants free radicals can get out of hand and attack the body doing serious harm to our health. Lack of antioxidants on an ongoing basis can lead to many diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, alzheimer’s and many more. Sounds fun.

Where Do We Get Antioxidants?

We get antioxidants from our food. They’re found in fresh fruits and vegetables and are essential for maintaining health. There are many different antioxidants, vitamins  A, C and E being the ones most people are familiar with but there are many more that are also important for optimum health and performance such as glutathione, selenium, CoQ10, and lycopene.

Different fruits and vegetables contain different antioxidants so it’s best to eat as wide a range as possible. As a bonus fruits and vegetables are high fiber foods so you’re also getting all the benefits of extra fiber – more on fiber here.

Eat Your Colours

No, I’m not talking about blue sports drinks or brightly coloured candy, I’m talking about natural colours found in fruits and vegetables. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. Tomatoes are high in lycopene. Avocados, mangoes and leafy greens are great for vitamin E. To make sure you’re meeting you’re antioxidant needs it’s a good idea to eat as many different colours as you can as each colour contains different antioxidants and in different quantities and combinations.

Think Red – tomatoes, red bell peppers, red apples, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, pomegranate, watermelon, red grapefruit.

Think Orange – carrots, cantaloupe melon, pumpkin, sweet potato, papaya, oranges, squash, orange bell peppers, apricots.

Think Yellow – corn, yellow bell peppers, lemons, grapefruit, pineapple.

Think Green - spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus, celery, kiwi, cucumber, green grapes, courgette/zucchini, romaine lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, rocket, watercress, endive.

Think Blue/Purple – blueberries, blackberries, cherries, plums, purple/red onion, purple/red cabbage, aubergine/eggplant, beetroot, purple grapes.

Think White - cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, bananas, garlic, parsnip/ rutabaga, leeks, Chinese leaf/cabbage.

How You Can Get More Antioxidants Into Your Day

Include fresh fruits and vegetables in each meal and snack. Add some fresh berries to your breakfast. Have a fresh salad with lunch and/or dinner. Chop up whatever veggies you have in the fridge and make a tasty stir fry. Cut raw celery, carrots, peppers and zucchini/courgete into sticks and dip into hummus for an excellent healthy snack.

Extra Tips For Getting More Antioxidants

Tip One

Do you boil all your vegetables? Unfortunately this will leave the antioxidants behind in the water. Steaming vegetables helps to retain more antioxidants. Steamed vegetables don’t have to be bland, add freshly ground black pepper,  a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. So tasty!

Tip Two

It’s important to eat raw vegetables too. The longer you cook vegetables the less antioxidants remain. As cooking depletes antioxidants be sure to include plenty of fresh vegetables as well as cooked, in the form of salads or for snacking on.

My Experience

By turning your focus on to eating lots of different coloured fruits and veggies each day you’ll find eating healthier becomes a positive experience rather than an added stress about what foods you need to avoid. This approach really helped me to eat healthier. Your tastes start to change and you get hooked on the way you feel eating these fresh foods bursting with flavour.

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