10 Ways to Get More Antioxidants into Your Diet
Antioxidants are those agents which are the most well known protectors of the human body against oxidative caused by several environmental factors such as prolonged exposure to light, heat and toxicants that we normally encounter as we pass through our life on this planet. As we grow old the effect of these factors is manifested as symptoms of ageing like degeneration of muscles and bones, loss of eyesight, wrinkling of the skin, loss of memory, loss of energy, irritability, restriction of movement, loss of teeth, loss of patience, increased emotional stress and development of heart disease and diabetes. It’s no secret that antioxidants are incredibly beneficial to good health. It’s believed the antioxidants in food can help prevent cancer, reverse or slow aging, enhance your immune system, increase your energy and improve heart and other organ health.
Given all we know about antioxidants and their beneficial properties, it’s amazing more people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, the primary sources of antioxidants. Experts recommend a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but say getting 7-10 servings is best.
There are 10 steps to getting more antioxidants into your diet.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hurried toaster tart on the way out the door. Throw some strawberries, 100% juice and yogurt into a blender; pour your delicious mixture into a cup and head out the door. You’ve just added one to three servings of fruits to your daily intake. Or throw some berries onto your cold or hot cereal. If you are having rotis or dosas for breakfast enrich these with shredded carrots or finely sliced apples after applying some some chutney or dal and then make it into a roll. Eat this on your way to office.
Say you truly have no time in the morning and usually grab something on the run. Even the Golden Arches can be of some help here. Order a fruit and yogurt parfait and some apple slices. For about $2, you have a breakfast providing one to two servings of fruit. If papaya or mango or pineapple is available there is nothing like this for providing you an antioxidant- rich diet.
Here’s an easy way to get more antioxidants in your diet. How about a handful of raisins for a snack, or some fresh red grapes? Dip some strawberries in yogurt. You’ll feel decadent, but the berries provide the color you’re looking for. Need crunch? How about some baby carrots dipped in hummus? Consider a handful of pecans for crunch and a nice antioxidant boost. Pulses like chickpea and green gram are considered to be rich in anti-oxidants and these can boiled and taken as snack with some melted butter for aroma.
3. Lunch and dinner
It might sound trite, but adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. If you’re going classic, add some red pepper slices to your green salad, some tomatoes to the Greek salad, or tart cranberries to your field greens. Whip up a broccoli salad for lunch, or be adventurous and mix up a rice salad with a mélange of fresh vegetables like string beans, tomatoes, peppers and red onions. Always remember to add finely sliced or shredded carrot to all your salads that will add both colour and crunch to your salads.
Whipped cream or chocolate added to berries or simply berries are a wonderful way to end your day of healthy, antioxidant-rich eating. Dessert could also be only a mixture of fresh fruits, dry fruits like pecans, almonds and nuts like hazelnuts with some honey added along with some jaggery, pepper and salt.
Replace your soda with tea or coffee, both of which boast antioxidant compounds. Have a glass of wine with dinner, or for a real change of pace, pour a glass of chai (tea decoction with or without milk and sugar. You can also try light black tea with honey and lime juice which is a beverage that will take care of all your cravings for a beverage or a hot drink.
6. Think outside the box
We know we can get our antioxidant fix from berries, salads and the like, but researchers say powerful antioxidants can also be found in a variety of unexpected foods, like russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans. The beans, in fact, may have more antioxidant power than blueberries, experts say. So to your rice salad full of vegetables, add some beans for even more antioxidants.
7. Cook lightly
You think you’re being good, preparing vegetables each night for your family’s dinner. But if you’re overcooking the vegetables, you’re cooking out a lot of the beneficial properties of the antioxidants. Steam (don’t boil) vegetables, and stop cooking them when they will have all of their bright color and most of their bite.
8. Plant a garden
Experts believe that people who plant and harvest vegetables from their own yards are far more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits than people who buy their produce from the store. So plant a garden, watch it grow and eat the fruits (literally) of your labor. This has other advantages also. It teaches you the need for composting kitchen waste and to produce chemical-free healthy produce.
9. Take your healthy diet on vacation
Too many of us consider going on vacation an opportunity to take a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. Think of vacation as a way to be introduced to new foods. Order an interesting vegetable dish in a restaurant and then pay attention to how the chef prepared the dish. Get back home and try to prepare it yourself and make interesting improvisations that can turn out to be tastier than what you ate at the restaurant. You could make it your own recipe and share it around.
10. Learn to cook
If you’re cooking, you’re not opening bags and boxes. Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering out every night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables that provide the base for our antioxidant intake. You can make sauted vegetables in the simplest possible by using carrots and beans with red onions. Use butter to make your vegetables smell yummy.