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The Health Benefits of Antioxidants

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Lately, it seems that breaking news about antioxidants is everywhere. From news reports to health studies, antioxidants are quickly becoming the world's favorite super-food. Linked to reduction of harmful free-radicals and increased disease prevention, foods containing high-levels of antioxidants are the best choice for healthy living. But what are antioxidants? How do they help our bodies? And which foods are anti-oxidant rich?

Antioxidants and Free-Radicals

Simply stated, antioxidants are the powerful components in foods that neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Through lessening or preventing the process of molecule oxidation, we reduce the amount of free-radicals (harmful cellular bi-products) in our system.

Free radicals are dangerous to our health because they are responsible for cellular destruction. Free radicals create unhealthy cells and cause other general forms of oxidative damage. Many of today's "degenerative diseases," such as cancer and heart-disease, are linked to increased free-radical exposure. All of us have a normal amount of free-radicals in the body at any given time, and antioxidants facilitate keeping that number in a healthy range.

Studies show that anti-oxidant rich food can actually help to increase our life-span, as well as slow the signs of aging. Many people report feeling a glowing quality to their skin, mental well-being, and an overall increase in energy levels when they eat more antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants also act as enzymes to support your body's natural processes, such as digestion and cellular repair. Some common forms of antioxidants in the foods we eat include beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, glutathione, selenium, vitamin E, lutein, melatonin, coenzyme Q-10, alpha lipoic acid and polyphenols such as resveratrol and citrus bioflavonoids.

A Mango a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet. Try to introduce four or five servings of antioxidant-rich foods into your meals on a daily basis. If you can, try to purchase foods that are fresh, preferably organic, and local to your area. If fresh is not available, frozen fruits and veggies are also a good source. Look for flash frozen as that freezing method retains more nutrients. To maximize your benefits, don't eat the same foods all the time. Switch it up by enjoying a variety of these recommended foods, eating them in both a cooked and raw form.

Our Favorite Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Remember, when trying to eat a diet high in antioxidants, think color, color, color!

  • Green Tea: Very high in antioxidants, and a great replacement for your normal cup of morning Joe.
  • Berries: From the cranberry to the blueberry, most berries are super-high in antioxidants. Eat them in your morning cereal, or throughout the day as a snack, to pack an extra antioxidant punch into your diet.
  • Fresh Limes and Lemons: Squeeze antioxidants into your next cup of herbal tea or water with a slice of lime or lemon. If organic, eat the peel to get extra bioflavonoids.
  • Kale: Most "greens" have an extremely high amount of antioxidants, not to mention a healthy dose of your daily vitamin and mineral needs.
    Garlic: Don't let the smell fool you, garlic is one of healthiest foods on the planet!
  • Red Grapes: Grapes, as well as red wine, are rich in free-radical fighters.
  • Millet: Try substituting this delicate whole grain for white pasta or rice. It's loaded with phenolics and phytonutrients.
  • Almonds: Full of vitamin E and flavonoids, a handful is all you need!
  • Red Beets: Beets are extremely high in antioxidants. Roast them with your favorite dried herbs and spices for a decadent taste experience.
  • Artichokes: This antioxidant rich vegetable keeps most of its properties when steamed. Pair with olive oil and garlic for a triple immune-boosting experience.

Finally, if this list is not enough to whet your appetite, try some of these antioxidant-rich foods: corn, dates, red chilies, cloves, mango, squash, carrots, oregano, spinach, cinnamon, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil, pineapple, goji berries, coconut oil, small red beans, pinto beans, wheat germ, pomegranates, rye, barley, sweet potatoes, hempseed oil, black currant, blood oranges, whole grain brown rice, fish, acai berry, and other nuts and seeds.

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