If you read enough of the health related articles on AWS, you will know by now that your diet should include foods that are good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they help maintain the body’s chemical balance by fighting free radicals and toxins that are created when the body’s natural oxidization process is interfered with by factors such as poor diet and stress. If your lifestyle is causing disruptions in the oxidization process you are open to all the risks of free radical damage. This cannot be repaired simply by consuming foods that are good sources of antioxidants but you should be eating them as part of a healthy diet. Foods that are good for you needn’t be boring, nor should they be bland. Here are some free radical busting foods you should think about eating more of.
1. Artichoke Hearts
I love artichoke hearts in salad, and they taste pretty good on semi-healthy pizza too (‘cos pizza can never be truly healthy) and I always eat them because they taste good. I didn’t realize they are also one of the best sources of antioxidants. Certainly not a boring vegetable, artichoke hearts are a real antioxidant powerhouse and per equivalent serving, contain more flavonoids type antioxidants than cherries, raspberries and strawberries. They are also less than 50 calories per cup and a great source of fiber too.
We know that nuts are so good for us, particularly as a source of healthy fats, but we also know they are calorific, so we should eat them with an eye on the calorie count. Well, the first thing you should know about pistachios is that they are less calorific than hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts. But, even better, they are packed with flavonoids anti-oxidants – a group that has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Eggs are one of the most versatile foods around and many people think they are too calorific and too high in cholesterol to be healthy. An average egg has about 70 calories and 6g of protein. Eggs have many properties that make them perfectly suitable to be included in a healthy eating regime – and that includes antioxidants. Don’t make the mistake of only eating the whites in a yolk free omelet because in discarding the yolk, you are throwing away an important source of carotenoids – namely zeaxanthin and lutein - antioxidants particularly important for eye health.
The importance of whole grains in your diet cannot be underplayed. But, they must be unrefined! Refined grains have had all the worth nutritional content stripped from them. In its purest form, barley is another of the less-considered sources of antioxidants. The main active ingredient we are interested in here is called ferulic acid. It is prized for its anti-aging properties, most specifically from UV damage, and you will find it in many UV protection products. Now that the colder weather is here, I love to add barley to stews and casseroles because they are wholesome and filling and you don’t then need to have a serving of carbs such as rice or potatoes. It also goes great in meat or vegetable chili.
We shouldn’t underestimate the power of the humble onion. It is the world’s most commonly used vegetable and one of the greatest flavor bases in countless dishes. How many savory recipes begin by softening some onions? Exactly! But, you can also appreciate them, not only for being a building block of taste but also as an excellent source of flavonoids – mainly quercitin. A Dutch university (Wageningen) has research that shows that the absorption rate of quercitin from onions is twice that from tea, and three plus times that from apples. You’re also enjoying a good source of Vitamin C, folate and fiber when you eat onions.
I love mushrooms of all sorts. It’s great that there are so many different edible varieties and they are a great meat replacement. My favorite types are chestnut and oyster mushrooms and I love the latter even more now I know that the pale mushroom is one of the sources of antioxidants. Mushrooms are also one of the few sources of a very powerful antioxidant known as ergothionene. Scientists are currently researching this chemical as a potential cancer and AIDs treatment. For this punch of antioxidants you only have to consume 15 calories (per cup) and you get a hit of vitamin D too.
7. Russet Potatoes
I kid you not! Most girls rarely see the potato as their friend and that pile of buttery mash or crispy fries is definitely the enemy right? Well, it may well be so, but it is mainly because of the way that we cook potatoes that has given them such a bad rap. If we are going to deep fry them or load them up with butter and cream, of course they aren’t going to be any good for us. But, we also know that red is a really important color when it comes to sources of antioxidants – the darker the better of course. It’s therefore becomes logical to realize that a red skinned – or russet – potato is going to be a source of goodness. So, there’s no need to eschew potatoes – just choose a healthy red skinned spud and eat it with the skin on – preferably baked. Check out what the researchers at the University of Maine have to say about the healthy potato. umaine.edu
I hope you embrace some of these sources of antioxidants and include more of them in your diet. Are you going to eat more?