Anitoxidants..a term we are all likely to have come across at some point, but what exactly are they? Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds in foods that have long been shown to promote good health. Their role in the body is basically to “mop up” or nuetralise chemicals in the body known as free radicals (unstable molecules), that are produced by oxidative processes in the human body. It is important that we do our best to prevent build ups of these chemicals as they are linked to aging processes and common health problems such as cancer and heart and liver disease!
So this is where our Antioxidants come into play! Antioxidants are found in many types of fruits and vegetables, nuts and wholegrains, but some are much richer sources than others. Below are my top 5 favourite antioxidant rich foods..not only because they contain these important natural compounds but also because they are delicious and leave you feeling revitalised and full of energy! Many have also been shown to have anti-aging effects! yay!
Though they are only tiny, these tastey little morsels pack a good punch as they known to be one of the richest natural sources of a antioxidants in the world! Just half a cup of blueberries will double your usual antioxidant intake! These little babies not only have anti-aging properties but they also contain a culmination of other essential vitamins and minerals that will keep you energised and healthy! So, to get a serious hit of antioxidants in your daily diet, why not add half a cup to your breakky cereal in the morning or whiz them up in a tastey, nutrient rich smoothie? Though fresh blueberries are often quite expensive..don’t lose hope as the frozen varieties are just as nutritious if not more, due to being snap frozen after picking!
2. Raw Cacao
What’s not to love.. it’s used to make our beloved chocolate AND its good for you!! win win situation right?? Now notice that I said Cacao not cocoa, which is a much more commericalised, highly processed version of the chocolate forming compound that contains very little nutrients at all due to the high level of processing it undergoes before it reaches your supermarket shelves. Raw Cacao on the other hand is known as the raw chocolate superfood as unprocessed raw cacao beans are super-rich in the type of flavonoid called flavanols which are very strong antioxidants that help maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure! In a recent study by Cornell University* food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea! So instead of reaching for the highly processed sugar laiden chocolate bunnies on your supermarket shelf..why not try making your own antioxidant rich Easter treats using raw Cacao powder! (See my previous post for a quick and easy, yet oh so tastey and nutritious Easter treats recipe!)
3. Acai Berries
Acai berries, although fairly new to the Western world, are quickly becoming very popular due to their high antioxidant properties. Acai berries are small purple colored berry that originates from the Amazon jungle!..(healthy and exotic!) The antioxidants found in them have been shown to have a positive effect on the heart and cardiovascular system. In addition, acai berries are believed to improve circulation, fight cancer, and prevent both blood clots and artherosclerosis, the clogging of blood vessels! You can buy acai powder and other products from most health food shops and watch out for this little gem at your local juice bars and cafes, as it is often whizzed up in delicious smoothies and juices!
4. Green Tea
Just another reason to have another cuppa! Green Tea has been cultivated for centuries, beginning in India and China and it’s benefits have long been known to these cultures. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, a diuretic (to help rid the body of excess fluid), an astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating gas, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes. And why is green tea so great? Well it is now knwon that green tea in particular, which is made from unfermented tea leaves contains the highest concentration of a powerful type of antioxidant known as “polyphenols”, making it a very potent (and easily accessible) source of these aging and disease fighting compounds!
Yep, you thought it was just an old wives tale didn’t you that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”… Well in actual fact, that old saying actually rings very true, espeically when talking about health promoting compounds like antioxidants! Packed full of flavenoids, (a collective term for a range of antioxidant compounds), apples are a great source of antioxidants, as their natural sugars (known as Fructose) are believed to improve our body’s abilities to absorb the high levels of the falvenoids that they contain! Along with their antioxidant properties, apples also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol. So, what’s not to love about this wonderful fruit that is available almost all year around? Not only do they taste great, but they are always relatively cheap (even for all you poor uni students out there!) AND they have multiple health benefits to help keep you feeling healthy and youthful! Who knew the old faithful apple could be so ridiculously good for you?!