What if I told you there are foods around that have molecules which act as bodyguards in our body to fight disease and foster good health?
What if I told you that you need no medication, no pills, no supplements and certainly no special diet to increase the army of bodyguards in your body?
Well, I bring to you...
THE POWER OF ANTIOXIDANTS
... They are certainly better bodyguards than Kim Kardashian's.
So why are they so important?
There are some bullies in our bodies. They are called free radicals. Free radicals are bad. If there are too many free radicals, it causes processes which lead to damaged cells and damaged DNA. This is bad, because damage caused by free radicals is linked with at least 50 diseases - from cataracts, to heart disease, to gut diseases, cancer and stroke. So obviously, we don't want this to happen -- which is why we have antioxidants!
How can I get antioxidants?
Well I'm glad you asked, here's a list I prepared earlier.
10 things you should be eating to boost your antioxidant intake:
1. Spices like cinnamon and turmeric
I add these spices over my oats in the morning, in any stir fry, casserole or stew I make. And I add heaped teaspoons in my smoothies.
2. Unpeeled fruit and veg
Antioxidants are packed in the skin of our fruit and veg, so it is best to eat them unpeeled. I just give my produce a good soak with water and apple cider vinegar and I eat them whole! Of course there are exceptions like lemon, orange and banana peels...Unless you're into that.
3. Raw nuts and seeds
A tablespoon of these a day will keep the Doctor away! Sprinkle nuts and seeds over salads, morning cereal, stir fry's or baked goods!
This is another spice full of antioxidants. Sprinkle some chilli powder in your marinades, meat dishes or soups.
5. Crunchy green veg
With at least 5 antioxidants in each green veg, you'll never go wrong with including these in your every day life.
6. And some orange veg
Carrots and sweet potatoes are full of the amazing antioxidant beta-carotene. Add mashed sweet potato to your mash, and make sure you eat a mixture of crackers and carrot sticks with that cheese platter you have at night!
7. Berries (any and every type)
Frozen or fresh - they will both provide you with the same thing. Add berries to your smoothies, your cereal, yoghurt, or snack on a punnet of blueberries on your tea break.
8. Red wine... Yes, I said wine!
Red grapes have a higher concentration of antioxidants compared to green grapes. So stick with the red. However, excessive drinking may increase the number of the bad guys: free radicals. So, moderation is key here.
9. Extra-virgin olive oil
The one and only oil I have in my pantry. I use it for everything, and you should too. High levels of polyphenols are found in EVOO which are known to keep our heart happy and strong.
10. Cooked or canned tomatoes
Lycopene, a type of antioxidant actually increases in cooked tomatoes. So when you want to have that pasta with creamy sauce, think again - you're much better off having a red tomato sauce instead.
Evidence shows that people who eat up to 7 serves of antioxidant rich foods every day will seriously reduce their risks of heart disease, cancers and stroke. I've given you 10 foods to include, so now you have no excuse. Choose your favourite 7 and enjoy the benefits!
Yours in health,
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.