All these days, you may have heard or read about eating for heart health, eating for a healthy liver, or just eating healthy for overall wellness. But, have you ever wondered why nobody tells you to eat for your cells? Yes; cells! They are the building blocks of tissues and organs and if good health is your ultimate goal, you need to start caring for these tiny units right now! Healthy cells often fall victims to damage by free radicals and may become weakened, making you more susceptible to CVD and certain cancers.
Antioxidants are the little fighters that help neutralize these free-radicals, avoid oxidative damage, and prevent these disease.So, if you’re looking for an easy, surefire way to improve your immune system, repair your damaged muscles, and feel more energized, antioxidants are what you should be taking. Good news is that most foods- fruits and vegetables have antioxidants, some higher than others.
Here are 10 smart tipsthat can help you sneak these tinygemsinto your diet!
- Kick up your salad intake
Increase your portion of garden salad because raw veggies and fruits have higher antioxidant content, with the exception of tomato which when cooked has higher lycopene content.
- Maximize antioxidant content of cooked veggies
You can retain most of the antioxidants while cooking by: (a) not peeling veggies (b) minimizing chopping (c) cooking quickly at high heat (d) using frozen vegetables (e) steaming instead of stir-frying.
- Color code your meal
Antioxidants give color to foods. Pick bright orange (salmon and egg yolks are high in astaxanthin), red (tomatoes, cherries, and berries), and yellow (bell peppers and corn), blue (blueberries), and green (spinach). Aim for at least 2 to 3 colors in every meal.
- Juice’em up
If you’re a single veggie/fruit at every meal/snack kind of person, include the other foods by juicing them up and drinking them as smoothies or green juices at breakfast. You can also get your antioxidant boost by adding Matcha tea (a rich source of antioxidants) powder, acai, or goji berries to your daily smoothie.
- Drink more beverages
Beverages like green tea, coffee, tea, and even red wine are good sources of antioxidants. But again, remember that moderation is key and beware of the sugar and calories that come with store- or restaurant- bought packs and beverages.
- Add more herbs & spices
Turmeric is very high in antioxidant content, as are other herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, oregano, peppermint, thyme, and lemon balm. If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, use dry versions.
- Snack smart
Nuts and dry fruits stand testament to the fact that great things do come in small packages! They make extremely healthy snacks and are rich sources of antioxidants. Try Brazil nuts for selenium, and almonds, sunflower seeds, and pecans for vitamin E, and goji berries for vitamin C.
- Eat a healthy dessert
Swap pastries and cupcakes for antioxidant-rich berries (with or without whipped cream) or just eat a few cubes of plain dark chocolate.
- Eat whole grains
Switch to whole grains. They are rich sources of zinc, selenium, and other phytochemicals that help protect against heart disease and cancer. Replace white bread with whole grain bread, and eat wild or brown rice instead of polished white rice.
- Use beans
Beans are high in antioxidant activity. Choose green soy beans for vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and selenium, or black eyed peas for folate and zinc, or black beans and kidney beans for folate.
Most nutritionists would recommend getting antioxidants from food rather than taking supplements. Too many supplements can actually negatively affect the body’s ability to switch on its antioxidant defense system. So,a healthy eating plan is the best way to get your antioxidant boost.