So what’s the big secret to antioxidants? We know they’re good for us but do we really know what they do?
Antioxidants neutralise excess free radicals, largely protecting us from premature ageing and diseases associated with ageing.
Antioxidants and free radicals work together to help keep our bodies functioning at their best.
Free radicals are well known for causing damage but it’s only when we have excess free radicals which our bodies can’t control do they then become a problem.
This is why we need to consume as many foods with antioxidant properties to promote good health as well as slow down the ageing process. Stephen Eddey, Principle of Health Schools Australia QLD and qualified nutritionist and naturopath, shares the top five foods to help promote a happy and healthy lifestyle.
A is for Artichoke
Artichokes may have a peculiar appearance but don’t let their shape fool you. Within their enclosed leaves behold an array of rich antioxidants. Artichokes are high in Vitamin C, K as well as being high in folate and especially fibre. Dietary fibre promotes the growth of good bacteria which helps to maintain a healthy gut and therefore a fit immune system. Dietary fibre naturally occurs in plants such as artichoke and should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Wash the vegetable, chop off the stem, break off the outside leaves, trim the tips and boil or roast with oils and spices for a delicious and nutritious low calorie meal.
Don’t just eat the olives, eat the olive leafs
This winter, reach in the medicine cabinet for Olive Leaf Extract as your cold and flu preventative. A fresh-picked Olive Leaf Extract in an Australian study has shown to be 5 times stronger than the equivalent amount of vitamin C providing powerful immune system support and relief of common cold symptoms. Research indicates that Olive leaf extract contains a strong broad spectrum of over 20 antioxidants including Oleuropein, a polyphenol compound, which has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidants. The recommended dose is 5mls, 3 times a day with food. You may want to complement it with a morning smoothie.
Eat your heart out cacao
Chocolate, a food that tickles most taste buds is surprisingly good for us! Cacao is the most nutritious form of chocolate and dissimilar to cacao which is heated and loses its nutritional value. Cacao is high in magnesium which is a mineral that the western diet lacks. Magnesium is also great for a healthy heart as well as promotes energy to the brain to help us feel focused. Cacao is also rich in serotonin which is that feel good sensation. The richer in cacao, i.e. the darker, the more potent the antioxidant and higher the nutritional benefits.
Beans beans the magical fruit
Legumes don’t just preach to the vegetarian choir. Leguminous plants such as dried beans – kidney, pinto , black and lentils are special proteins in the way they can take nitrogen from the air and incorporate it into amino acids. Beans are a rich source of antioxidants and with their amino acid profile are important in breaking down proteins as well as stimulating enzymes in the metabolism process. Match your legumes with grains to receive the optimum amount of essential amino acids.
Pick a pecan
If you munch on 15 pecans a day you can receive up to 55% of your daily recommended intake of manganese according to a study. Manganese is great for healthy skin, maintaining blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels with unsaturated good fats and overall boasts a high antioxidant profile. Pecans as well as other nuts and seeds complement a healthy diet are packed with vitamins and minerals but should be taken in small doses due to a high fat content.
Do you eat a lot of antioxidants?
Stephen Eddey is a qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath and is the Principal of Australia’s longest established natural medicine college, Health Schools Australia. He has completed a Bachelor of Complementary Medicine as well as a Masters in Health Science and PhD in Nutritional Medicine.