Antioxidants are naturally found in many foods like citrus fruits, red wine, green tea and tomatoes, among others. Once absorbed into the bloodstream they have a protective, albeit short-lived, effect on warding off damaging stressors that can affect healthy cells.
“Antioxidants come in many forms from our diet and some of these chemical compounds have been shown to work more effectively as free radical scavengers over others,” says celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson. Because they are neutralized quickly (in just a few hours), it is important to include at least five to 10 servings (meals and snacks throughout the day) of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet on a daily basis. How your food is prepared—heat, Simpson says, destroys much of the volatile antioxidants—may determine the amount and/or activity of an antioxidant, which is why a raw food diet is beneficial.
Simpson recommends turning to healthy nutrient-rich foods, like the ones below, before turning to supplements.
- Berries like blueberries, blackberries and raspberries help repair free-radical damage. These should be eaten throughout the day, especially in the morning.
- A good source of omega-3s, nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts can be enjoyed throughout the day.
- Beans including red, pinto, black and kidney are good for promoting a healthy digestive system. It’s best to eat them in the afternoon with lunch or at night with dinner.
- Dark green vegetables including spinach, cabbage and broccoli provide a dose of vitamins C, A and E, which can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Eat them throughout the day and enjoy them as a snack, too.
- Fruits with a peel like apple, pears, kiwi and cherries contain flavonoids, which promote a healthy heart and detoxify the body. Eat them in the morning, with lunch, as a snack or after dinner.
- In the morning and then again midday, drink teas such as green, white and black. (Other drinks high in antioxidants include red wine and pomegranate juice.) These drinks boast polyphenols and flavonoids, which fight free radicals to detoxify the body.