Antioxidants – What Are They And What Do They Do?
We hear all the time that we should be eating lots of fruit and vegetables because they are full of antioxidants. But do you know what antioxidants actually are? or what they do?
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds found in certain foods that can protect our bodies from harmful chemicals. Think of them as little soldiers deployed from fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains to defend our bodies from attack!
Why do we need antioxidants?
Certain things from our environment, like the sun and pollution, as well as things we put inside our bodies like fried foods, alcohol and tobacco can create attacker chemicals in our bodies. These attackers can cause havoc inside our bodies and damage our cells, which can lead to nasty diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
What do antioxidants do?
Antioxidants are little soldiers sent from fruit & veggies, that hold the line and prevent any harmful chemicals from attacking the body. They help to reduce inflammation, prevent lots of diseases, improve eye health, improve brain health, boost your mood and have anti-aging effects.
Where can you find antioxidants?
Fruit and veggies
Antioxidants are also responsible for the different colours found in fruit and veggies! There are loads of different antioxidants out there, so it’s best to get as many of these as you can by having a variety of different coloured fruit and veggies. Try to make your meals look like a rainbow!
Chickpeas, lentils and beans are a powerhouse of antioxidants along with their high fibre and protein content. Some legumes have more antioxidants than veggies do. Sneak a can to your mince dishes, pasta dishes, rice dishes and salads.
Make sure you are choosing brown bread, pasta and rice varieties over white varieties. The brown part of the grain is where all the antioxidants are housed. White varieties have most of the antioxidants stripped away from them.
Nuts and seeds
Try to include a variety of raw nuts and seeds throughout the week. Sprinkle them over salads, porridge and cereals.
Tea & Coffee
For most of us, coffee is part of our daily routine. Coffee is a good source of antioxidants however you don’t want to have too much caffeine especially later in the day. Try to include black and green tea also!
Cinnamon and chilli
Spice is nice and high in antioxidants. Sprinkle cinnamon over sweet meals and snacks. Sprinkle chilli over savoury meals and snacks.
Find out 12 foods high in antioxidants here.
Need to make some more healthy eating changes?
Download our Love Your Legumes recipe e-book. We make healthy versions of your favourite meals and boost their nutritional value by adding in legumes. Start feeling healthier now!
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Keep a track of your food, mood and exercise. Start to make healthier changes, then start to see the changes in your mood, energy and body. This is a great place to start if you are wanting to make real change.
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