You may recognize the word “antioxidant” from commercials for a trendy new vitamin, or even know that you should add antioxidants to your diet, but do you know why antioxidants are a positive for your diet? Do you know what they are and what they do? Most people don’t. Keep reading for five essential facts you need to know about antioxidants!
- Antioxidants destroy free radicals. Great! But what does that mean? Everyone’s body has naturally occurring free radicals. While some free radicals are necessary for a healthy, active immune system, too many free radicals lead to cell damage and diseases, like cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and early aging. Free radicals exist in the environment; think cigarette smoke, pollution in the air, and even sunshine. Antioxidants combat the excessive free radicals that damage your health.
- Adding antioxidants to your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. The easiest way to make sure your diet is rich in antioxidants is to eat your fruits and vegetables. Beans, nuts, seeds, and grains also are rich in antioxidants. If you’re choosing meat, look for grass-fed meat, which is richer in antioxidants than other meats.
- For healthier sources of antioxidants, read the labels, or better yet, buy food without a label, straight from the produce section! Many processed foods on the market claim to have added antioxidants, but what little benefit you may receive from the added antioxidants can be easily outweighed by the negative impact of processed foods.
- Skin creams and magic cures claim to deliver antioxidants directly to your skin to prevent premature aging or sun damage, but the best way to deliver the antioxidants to your skin, is through your diet. Specifically selenium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E in your diet benefit your skin, as well as your body. Selenium is found in whole grains, seafood, garlic, and eggs. To ensure your body (and skin) have enough Vitamin E, add vegetable oils, nuts, and dairy to your diet and for Vitamin C, add citrus fruits of any variety.
- To keep it simple, eat the rainbow. You don’t have to work any harder at adding antioxidants to your food than to just make an effort to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. It’s easier than it sounds. The next time you find yourself at the grocery store, search out the colors of the rainbow. Make an effort to expand the colors on your plate, and you may discover a new favorite source of natural antioxidants. No one antioxidant can protect against all free radicals. The more variety you can add to your diet, the better to ensure you’re receiving all the antioxidants you need.
Antioxidants and free radicals sound scary and complex but just like any other nutrition advice you’ve been given, it begins and ends with eating natural fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Do you try to eat a variety of colors when you plan a meal?