There are certain buzzwords that you will often hear when talking about health trends, eating well, fitness and overall health and weight loss. Antioxidants is something that is mentioned a lot when it comes to diet and the types of foods you should be including in your daily repertoire, but very few people actually understand what antioxidants are, how they work and why they are so beneficial to our health. In simple terms, antioxidants are molecules that help to fight free radicals in your body, these are substances that can cause great harm in high levels and have been linked to many diseases and illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Our bodies are naturally equipped with antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals in check, however supplementing your diet with additional antioxidants, like those found in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based whole foods, can really ramp up your levels and provide your body with additional vitamins and support.
If our bodies didn’t have antioxidant defenses against free radicals, we would very quickly feel the effects and eventually succumb to the damage that is done. But, it’s also important to note that our bodies need certain free radicals to help fight infections, which means that our bodies need to maintain a proper balance between antioxidants and free radicals in order to function well on a regular basis. If the number of free radicals in your body outnumber the antioxidants it can lead to something known as oxidative stress, which can damage your DNA and even lead to cell death. Any damage to your DNA increases your risk of cancer, so it’s important to keep your body balanced with regular exercise, good sleep habits, managing your stress and consuming a balanced diet with whole foods that are rich in antioxidants.
There are several lifestyle and environmental factors that can promote the creation of free radicals in your body, which includes:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Drinking alcohol
- Radiation, including tanning
- High blood sugar levels
- Intense and prolonged exercise, which can cause severe tissue damage
- Excessively eating foods high in polyunsaturated fatty acids
The good news is that you can easily keep your body balanced by including these 4 superfoods filled with antioxidants. While there are many other sources of antioxidants that you can include in your diet, these are some of the top selections that are not only nutritious, but also extremely delicious!
- Lucky for chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is well-known as an antioxidant rich snack. Dark chocolate has more cocoa in it that regular or milk chocolate, which also means it’s higher in minerals and antioxidants. The health benefits from dark chocolate have been linked to less inflammation and reduced risk for heart disease.
- Blueberries have received numerous accolades for having the highest number of antioxidants among other fruits and vegetables. They are very low in calories, deliciously sweet and provide numerous health benefits. Studies have shown that the antioxidants found in blueberries can delay the decline in brain function that naturally occurs with age and reduce risk factors for heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Beets, also commonly referred to as beetroot, are bright in color and offer a mild taste that is a great source of fiber, potassium, iron, folate and antioxidants. Beets can be cooked, served and consumed in many different ways, which makes it very easy to include them in your diet. You can steam them, puree them, juice them, cook them or eat them raw. Several studies have shown that eating beets can lower the risk of cancer in the colon and digestive tract as well as reduce inflammation that contributes to arthritis pain.
- Spinach is well known as one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables because it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while also being incredibly low in calories. Spinach is very high in specific antioxidants that help to protect your eyes from damaging UV rays as well as other harmful wave lengths. Whether you serve it raw in a salad or a smoothie, or steam it as a delicious dinner side, make sure to include this leafy green in your diet often.
There are many other foods that are rich in antioxidants and worth including in your diet, including pecans, almonds, various berries, kale, beans, avocado, cabbage, fish and so much more. When you eat a balanced diet with these ingredients you will look better, enjoy great weight loss benefits and anti-aging effects and you will feel better as well. Learn more about health trends and how to be the best version of yourself by following our blog!