You've probably read a lot of articles, posts and recipes that talk about antioxidants. They tell you a food is really good for you because it has antioxidants in it or that you should eat more antioxidant rich foods.
But what's the deal with them anyways?
Let's walk about what they are, where you can find them and why you need to be adding them to your diet.
What are antioxidants and why do I need them?
Every day our body takes in heaps of different substances, from the foods we consume to the air we breathe to the fluids we drink. All of these things that enter our body are filtered through our systems and if applicable, our body absorbs the nutrients and eliminates the waste. Along with this however, are other substances that enter our body known as free radicals. These are unstable molecules that either enter into our body as is, or are byproducts of the breakdown of products within our body during digestion and absorption. The issue is that these free radicals are not stable molecules and will steal molecules from healthy cells to stabilize themselves. This is an undesirable practice, because this can then cause problems with our healthy cells. Antioxidants act to help eliminate these free radicals so they are not floating around in the body and hurting our healthy cells.
Why do antioxidants do?
In addition to helping remove the free radicals, antioxidants come in several different forms, and performed several different functions in the body. You can think of them as helpers, who go around and amplify the work of our cells and assist them in doing their job. Among other things, antioxidants aid our cells in fighting inflammation, help in our skin health, function in immune response, and protect the lining of blood vessels of the heart.
Where can I get antioxidants?
Different antioxidants, which serve different purposes in our body come from different foods. This is why it is important to eat a variety of foods, to ensure we get antioxidants in our bodies that can fight lots of different free radicals and help in lots of different ways.
You get antioxidants from brightly coloured or deeply coloured foods such as blueberries, acai berries, kale, purple cabbage, raspberries and green tea, as well as in several other foods. The best way to ensure you get adequate antioxidants is to follow a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Choose seasonal produce when you can, mix it up regularly, and seek out vegetables and fruits that are highly pigmented and pretty colours. And then make sure to eat lots of different colours on your plate every day!
Here’s some ideas for antioxidant rich foods and meals: