There are many different things that contribute to a healthy diet.
Eating the right portions, making the right food choices, and getting the right vitamins and nutrients are the main goals (or should be) of anyone that wants to eat healthily and be healthy.
Antioxidants are an important part of a proper diet too.
Antioxidants do many things while they’re inside your body, and you want to have foods that are rich in them be staples in your daily diet.
When you see (or hear) recommendations for eating a well-rounded diet with many colors of fruits and vegetables, it’s because of the vitamins and nutrients, including antioxidants, you get from these healthy varieties of food items that make them a must.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances naturally found in certain plant-based foods that inhibit oxidation. In the foods, they help keep them from breaking down and rotting as quickly. In people, they help prevent the damage of cells, including the damage that can be caused by cancer cells.
Antioxidants have many names. There is resveratrol (in wine), flavanols (in dark chocolate), beta-carotene (vitamin A), and lycopene (in tomatoes). Vitamins E and C are also both antioxidants.
With these healthy substances in so many places, you’d think it would be easy to get them in your diet!
Benefits of Antioxidants
By eating a diet full of foods rich in antioxidants, you are increasing your heart health, and you are working on lowering your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Antioxidants can help keep your eyes healthy for longer, working against age-related eye diseases. They can even help you beat cold season.
There are many ways you can work on increasing the number of antioxidants you’re getting into your body, and here are some of them.
1. Eat Fruits High in Antioxidants
Fruit is one of the best and healthiest places to get your fill of antioxidants. Most fruits contain some form of antioxidants, but some have more than others and each of them have a bit of a different blend. Make sure you’re considering that fact that some culinary vegetables, like cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, are actually fruits.
Berries are powerful antioxidants, and many of them, including blueberries, are considered superfoods because of all of the vitamins and minerals inside them.
Fruit can be added to almost anything. They’re great in salads, on sandwiches, as snack replacements, in dessert, and all by themselves. Make sure you’re getting a few servings of fruit a day to get the best benefits.
2. Eat Colorful Vegetables
Fruits aren’t the only way to get antioxidants into your diet through food. There are vegetables that are antioxidant rich as well – and not just the ones that are considered culinary vegetables (they are cooked like veggies, even though they are technically fruit).
Leafy green vegetables, including kale and spinach, are great superfoods that give your body a boost of healthy antioxidants. Broccoli and brussels sprouts are great green choices as well. Onions are also rich in antioxidants and can help you fight colds.
3. Drink Green Tea
Green tea contains polyphenols and catechin. It’s a powerful fighter against free radicals and preventing cell damage. On top of those benefits, there are many other reasons to add green tea to your diet.
Green tea is great to drink if you’re trying to lose weight. A cup of green tea will help you feel fuller longer, so you won’t eat as much or need to snack as much. It’s been said that it can increase your metabolism as well, which is another reason people enjoy it (drinking it or taking it in supplement form) as part of a healthy weight loss regimen.
4. Take a Supplement
It’s better to get your vitamins and nutrients straight from the foods they come from. However, not everyone has access to these foods or likes certain foods (think picky eaters). In this case, you should take supplements.
You can find multivitamin supplements that contain antioxidants, or you can take the specific antioxidants in the cases of things like vitamin A and C. Do a little research and find the best companies to buy your supplements from.
Creating Antioxidant-Rich Meals
If you want to increase the antioxidants in your diet, there are a lot of great things that you can do. You really just need to make sure that you’re paying attention to what you eat, getting plenty of plant-based foods in your daily diet, and eating a well-rounded combination of healthy foods.
Start by adding fruits and vegetable to every single meal. This is easy to do.
Cut back on your meat intake and replace it with more protein-rich vegetables (there are plenty of them to enjoy). When you feel like you’re in need of a break from plain water, swap it out with hot or iced green tea.
Introduce smoothies and juicing into your diet. These are two great ways to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and get a boost of antioxidants. All you need to invest in is a good blender (like a Ninja or a Nutri Bullet) and a good juicer (which run around $60+).
Eat Your Veggies
The antioxidant benefits outweigh your dislike for vegetables. If you try some different vegetables or cook them in different ways, you may find a new love for stuff you weren’t a fan of in the past.
It’s all about preparation and presentation!