Antioxidants: where can you find them and how do you consume them
You’ve probably heard about the great health benefits of antioxidants. But… it’s not always clear what they are, what their real health benefits are and how to incorporate them into your diet more often.
At Arctic Gardens, we like helping you eat healthily. That’s why we’re telling you everything you wanted to know about antioxidants today.
Not only will you learn about their benefits, but we’ll also give you our best tips on how to add them to your recipes more often.
So what are antioxidants anyway?
Antioxidants are nutrients that occur naturally in food. Especially in fruits and veggies.
They can be present as vitamins such as vitamins A, C and E, but also in the form of substances of plant origin and minerals like selenium.
To understand the role of antioxidants in the body, we need to talk about the popular free radicals. Radicals are molecules that are produced in our bodies every day because of biological reactions that take place in the cells.
The problem with too many free radicals in the body is that they can cause cell damage (cell oxidation), which increases the likelihood of disease.
Antioxidants help cells because they delay or don’t allow the oxidation of cells (responsible for cellular aging), thereby neutralizing free radicals and preventing the onset of some diseases.
Why antioxidants are good for you
These nutrients transform fruits and veggies into true functional foods which are essential for your health. We’ll explain their main benefits:
Strengthening the immune system
Antioxidants are known as the defenders of the cells because they can act directly on some of the immune system’s cells. And a strong immune system will protect you from seasonal diseases, viruses and bacteria.
For example, consuming vitamin C promotes white blood cell production which helps fight infection and disease in the body.
Antioxidants also contribute to the production of valuable antibodies, proteins that are necessary for the immune system to function properly.
Some studies suggest that antioxidants may help prevent cancer. But how? These nutrients can help prevent damage that free radicals cause, which is linked to cancer development.
Although studies are still being conducted, they’ve definitely shown that it’s much better to get antioxidants through your diet, as opposed to supplements.
That’s great if you love nuts because eating them is linked to a lower risk of pancreatic cancer, for example.
Free radicals can also affect the brain as you age. That’s where antioxidants come in. Found in fruits and veggies, they can help protect the brain including neurons.
They may also help reduce neuroinflammation and improve memory, learning and cognitive function.
Did you know
Vitamin E found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds may slow age-related memory loss.
By including antioxidants in your diet regularly, you’ll also improve eye health.
They’re allies in the fight against macular degeneration (progressive degeneration of the central part of the retina).
In addition, vitamins A, C and E can help reduce the risk of cataracts, but if you already have them, antioxidants can still slow their progression.
We recommend foods such as carrots, berries, raisins, kale and spinach. They’re your besties for eye health.
Again, consuming the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables will protect your heart.
By eating foods rich in antioxidants, you’re less likely to develop heart disease and stroke.
We recommend drinking green tea, for example. Studies have shown its benefits in preventing cardiovascular disease.
Remember that the balance between diet and exercise is also very important. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Remember to ask your doctor what’s the best exercise for you.
Also, remember what’s best to eat before and after exercise. This will ensure that you get all the nutrients you need for a great workout that your heart will love.
Reducing the signs of aging
Antioxidants that neutralize cell oxidation can reduce the signs of skin aging.
But that’s not all. These nutrients can help prevent skin cancer and fight skin conditions like acne.
There are lots of skin products and treatments on the market that contain antioxidants. However, we recommend that you also include them in your diet so your body can fully benefit from all these nutrients.
Foods richest in antioxidants
Among the wide variety of fruits with antioxidant properties, berries and red fruit deserve special recognition.
They’re known for their abundance of vitamin C and their anti-inflammatory power.
These fruits are also known for their antioxidant properties:
How to get more antioxidants in your diet
You can totally get more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.
Here are some tips to ensure that they’re always on your plate.
As you may have noticed, antioxidants are found in a wide variety of foods.
Ideally, a dish rich in antioxidants will be filled with fruits or veggies that add colour to the dish.
That’s why we suggest you look at the colour of your meals. If they’re mainly beige or brown, you probably need to add more antioxidants.
Frozen veggies are an excellent way to get more antioxidants. They’re practical and save time in meal prep.
Adding vegetables to your plate and eating them is easier than you think. Check out our article for our best tips for increasing your vegetable intake.
Mix up your snacks
Include a serving of fruit or vegetables in your snacks. When you plan your meals for the week, plan your snacks at the same time.
It’s a great way to make healthier choices and get more antioxidant-rich foods. You’ll also avoid eating the first thing you find (usually less healthy options) during the week.
Nuts and seeds are always a great way to vary your snacks. Think Brazil nuts or sunflower seeds, for example.
Green tea every day
You can drink green tea after meals. It’ll not only help digestion but will also provide a good number of antioxidants.
Another way is to make green tea and keep it on hand in the fridge. Add ice just before enjoying. It’s a refreshing thirst quencher.
Green juices and smoothies are your friends
Green juices and smoothies are a great option for consuming antioxidants. Not only are they convenient in terms of prep, but they’re versatile and allow you to combine several foods at the same time.
Whether it’s for smoothies or green juices, the key is to choose the right liquid base and the right mix of fruits and veggies.
Add turmeric, matcha or ginger to your smoothie or green juice. Not only do they smell good and taste good, but – you guessed it – they’re also a great source of antioxidants!
Beware of supplements
We recommend being cautious when it comes to taking antioxidant supplements because they haven’t been proven to help prevent chronic disease and taking too much can be counterproductive to your health.
It’s always best to consult your doctor and dietitian for advice before taking any supplement.
Our selection of antioxidant-rich recipes
Before we go, here’s our selection of recipes for every meal of the day. You’ll definitely get your daily dose of… antioxidants!
To start the day on the right foot
To end the day on a high note
Now that you know about the benefits of antioxidants and the huge variety of recipes that exist, you’ve got countless ways to add them to your diet more often. So tell us in the comments section which recipes you’d like to try.