3 Easy Ways to Get Antioxidants into Your Diet
Today’s blog is a simple guide to how to get those often talked about antioxidants into your diet.
Antioxidants are those things that kill the unwanted and sometimes dangerous free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are a natural product of our metabolism, caused by the process of oxygenation, but too many lead to disease and premature aging.
Antioxidants help keep free radicals in check and studies have shown that they have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-aging, anti-viral even anti-cancer properties.
There’s a great deal of talk of super foods as anti-oxidants; such as chia seeds, goji berries and magical powders such as maca and chlorella. However, there’s no need to look to these exotic and usually very expensive products to find antioxidants.
Simply look at your local fruit and veg store and choose the colours of the rainbow to ensure you are buying plenty of anti-oxidants.
Here are 3 easy and cheap ways to get antioxidants into your diet you can start with this week:
1/ Eat yellow, orange red fruit and vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mango, squash and green vegetables, such as lettuce, all contain carotenoids. This is what gives the fruit and veg their fab colours.
There are over 600 different carotenoids in nature! The 3 most important ones for us humans are alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin: (I love the sound of that one. Very sci – fi :))
Their main function is as a precursor to vitamin A. We convert them into this essential Vitamin.
2/ Eat your greens! The vegetables from the cruciferous family are incredible. This family consists of dark green vegetables; broccoli, brussels, cauliflower, kale, pak choy, cabbage, radish, collard greens, broccoli sprouts, kohlrabi (I’ve yet to track this weird sounding one down) and even the humble garden cress you may have grown, as I did at school, on a soggy piece of kitchen roll…
They contain glucosinates and as you chop or chew, plant cells are broken down and an enzyme called myrosinase is released.
This then creates isothiocyanates which we absorb and have been found to be majorly important in detoxification, inhibiting carcinogenic activity. They do this by inducing essential enzymes required for detoxification in the liver. One hard working one in particular, sulforaphane, is most commonly found from broccoli.
Another called indole – 3 – carbinol induces enzymes, removing carcinogenic toxins from your body. It does this in 2 ways, one in each of the 2 phases of detoxification that take place in our liver.
In phase one; it induces a specific enzyme (CYP 1A1) to eliminate oestrogen from your body, by reducing it to inactive forms for excretion.
In phase 2; it makes the toxins more water soluble and so easier to excrete. This therefore reduces the amount of oestrogen metabolites (necessary stuff formed from its metabolism) which can promote cancer. This is also good for the menopause helping to balance out fluctuating hormones.
Consumption of at least 5 weekly servings of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with reductions in cancer risk …5 a week? That’s not much to aim for, in return for such a benefit!
The best way to measure a serving of vegetables is to look at it as a handful.
3/ Cooking vegetables lowers antioxidants such as the glucosinates, so eating your greens raw is of greater benefit. Try cabbage in coleslaw, trimmed broccoli heads sprinkled over salads, green smoothies with kale or collard greens – these are all top ways to get 100% benefit.
If you can’t bear the thought of raw veg then try steaming them for a short time instead of boiling. I used to hate eating my greens but have come to learn how you cook them helps – no more boiled school dinner cabbage or soggy broccoli 🙂
So there you have it : 3 easy and cheap ways to get antioxidants into your diet!
I hope this has given you an idea of how easy it is to get your antioxidants without resorting to expensive products. Let me know if it’s been of help!
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Photo thanks to Sven Hilker