Antioxidants play a key role in a healthy balanced diet and are needed specifically to help clean up something called ‘free radical damage’ or ‘oxidative stress’. Free radical damage is caused by normal processes in the body such as fighting off viruses or infections, whilst we also encounter free radical damage through our environment. Sources include pollution, medication, toxins, the sun, smoking, alcohol and processed foods.
Some antioxidants are made by the body itself, whilst others are provided through eating a natural wholefood diet. Today we’ll dive into what you need to know about antioxidants and the top foods you need to be including in your diet regularly in order to get your antioxidant hit!
Our body works hard to balance antioxidant status to free radical damage, but if one starts to out weigh the other, e.g. living in a city, drinking heavily and eating lots of take away, oxidation can start to reak havoc in the body. This can lead to accelerated ageing as well as more serious diseases such as cancer.
Three main antioxidants include beta-carotene which is a pre-cursor to vitamin a and found in carrots, squash, spinach and sweet potato; lycopene found in tomatoes and vitamin c found in citrus fruits.
To get your daily antioxidant hit, try to include a few of the following foods daily as part of a healthy balanced wholefoods diet:
Goji berries, wild blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, artichoke, elderberries, green tea, garlic, cayenne pepper, clove, turmeric, coriander, parsley, cocoa, cumin.
Like all things in life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! Which is why you are best sourcing your antioxidants from a whole foods diet, as opposed to taking high dose supplements long term, and focus on reducing your exposure to free radicals by changing lifestyle behaviors and reducing stress.
Picture from Natalie Rhea Riggs