You’ve heard of antioxidants before. They’re listed as an added benefit to many packaged foods you may shop for at the grocery store and are even added into teas and other treats you enjoy on a daily basis.
But do you truly know what antioxidants are and how they benefit the body? “Antioxidants act like little bodyguards to protect our cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and disease,” Cynthia Sass says, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that play a role in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more. Health also states, “…Increasing your daily antioxidant intake is pretty simple; they’re found in many of your favorite fruits, nuts, veggies, and even sweets!”
So, essentially, when it comes to food, think of the colors of the rainbow such as strawberries, blueberries, artichokes, and pecans. They’re all delicious and nutritious and can easily be folded into your meal prep plans.
According to Healthline, “Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals.” However, in order to protect your body and your cells, eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants can actually increase blood antioxidant levels that fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of the aforementioned diseases.
Here are a few favorites from the team at Empowering Punch:
- Dark Chocolate – Antioxidants in cocoa and dark chocolate alone have been linked to impressive health benefits such as less inflammation and reduced risk factors for heart disease. By consuming cocoa-rich products, you may witness reduced systolic blood pressure (the upper value) by an average of 4.5 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by an average of 2.5 mmHg.
- Pecans – This particular kind of nut can help raise antioxidant levels in your blood. A study found that people who consumed 20% of their daily calories from pecans alone experienced significantly increased blood antioxidant levels.
- Blueberries – These berries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Several studies suggest that blueberries contain the highest amount of antioxidants among all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant in this versatile berry may also delay the decline of brain function that tends to happen with age.
- Strawberries – Did you know that these berries are also a rich source of vitamin C? Strawberries contain a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which give them their bright red color. Berries that have a higher anthocyanin level then to be brighter.
- Artichokes – Artichokes are a fantastic source of dietary fiber and minerals. They are especially rich in an antioxidant known as chlorogenic acid, and some studies suggest that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of chlorogenic acid may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
So, which foods are you going to attempt to shop for this week to increase the antioxidant levels in your body? Empowering Punch wants to know!
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