Have you resolved to lead a healthier lifestyle in 2014? Are you looking for simple changes that you can make to strengthen your body and remove harmful toxins?
A diet packed with antioxidants could be the answer for you! Keep reading to learn about food-based antioxidants and how you can incorporate them into your diet.
Oxidation occurs when the body’s cells are exposed to oxygen. This oxidation can cause cells to die and be replaced by new cells or to be damaged. Damaged cells look for a way to heal themselves and turn into “free radicals”. These free radicals attack other cells to gain the molecules they need to heal themselves.
When healthy cells are attacked, the DNA they contain can be damaged. This leaves the cell open to mutation and disease, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.
Your body is also exposed to free radicals through the environment. Cigarette smoke, pollution, and too much sunlight can cause cellular damage as well.
What is the solution to this problem? Antioxidants. The body uses antioxidants to stop the oxidation process and heal damaged cells.
Unfortunately, the body cannot produce enough antioxidants on its own to keep up with the cellular damage caused by natural oxidation and toxins from the environment. The best way to get the antioxidants you need is by eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods.
Antioxidants are found in foods that contain:
vitamins A, C, and E
Cooking some antioxidant-rich foods increases the amount of antioxidants they contain! Berries that are cooked yield a higher amount of antioxidants than those that are raw. Steaming antioxidant-rich vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, also increases the amount of antioxidants that you can absorb from them.
Some of the foods containing the highest amount of antioxidants are:
1. Pineapple - This tropical fruit is packed with vitamin C, manganese and B vitamins.
2. Walnuts - Are packed with 10 antioxidants, especially melatonin. The antioxidants in walnuts are known to combat the aging process that is accelerated by environmental toxins.
3. Beans - Many do not realize that beans are one of the most antioxidant rich foods available today. Black, red, kidney and pinto beans are packed with flavonoids to help your cells heal. Beans are also an inexpensive, easily stored, and readily available source of protein.
4. Pecans - This heart-healthy nut is full of vitamin E to heal cellular damage and magnesium to lower your cholesterol.
5. Artichokes - According to the USDA, artichoke hearts and leaves have more bioavailable antioxidants than any other vegetable. They are also low in calories, making them a great addition to your diet.
6. Russet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes - Potatoes and sweet potatoes are packed with a wide variety of antioxidants. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of beta carotene and vitamin A. They are also a good source of vitamin C, B vitamins, and manganese. Steamed russet potatoes are one of the top 20 antioxidant-rich foods.
7. Cinnamon - This versatile spice is full of manganese and can be incorporated into almost any cuisine.
8. Apples - This classic fall fruit is packed with flavonoids, polyphenols and vitamin C. Eating apples with the skin increases the amount of antioxidants you absorb and gives you an extra boost of fiber!
9. Plums and prunes - This drupe is packed with polyphenols, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Eating plums and prunes also increases your body’s ability to absorb iron.
10. Berries - Recent studies have shown that just one cup of berries provides the daily amount of antioxidants that your body needs to heal and protect itself from dangerous free radicals.
SOURCES: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1;http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20-common-foods-most-antioxidants; http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/antioxidants-in-fruits; http://www.whfoods.com; Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net