We regularly hear about how important eating our fruit and vegetables are. One of the main reasons for this is this is where many of the antioxidants in our food are found. Antioxidants work to reduce the side effects of oxidation in our bodies; free radicals are produced as our bodies process oxygen. These can cause damage to nearby cells, including damage to DNA. Higher intake of antioxidant-rich foods is clearly associated with better health and functional longevity.
Plant-based foods provide significantly more antioxidants into human diet than non-plant foods. Which foods in particularly? Unsurprisingly, berries and other berry products were one of the richest, whole food sources of antioxidants in the diet, with chocolate, nuts and seeds and spices and herbs all being other great sources of antioxidants to the diet.
Interestingly, traditional herbal plant medicines and supplements had the highest readings in a comprehensive 2010 study, however a significant variation between actual antioxidant content of these products was also found. It is also important to keep in mind that whilst concentrated, man made products may be rich sources of antioxidants, when nutrients are provided as whole foods, there is currently more benefits seen than when consumed as a supplement. This is due to the complex interactions between food and the human digestive system, which we are yet to fully understand.
Furthermore, animal products have very little antioxidant activity. This is thought to be due to antioxidants playing a protective role to plant health, as well as to human health upon consumption.
What about some antioxidant rich snack foods?
- Fresh raspberries, blueberries or cranberries
- Cherry tomato salad with fresh herbs and spices
- Walnuts coated in dark chocolate
- Dr Superfoods Blueberry Bliss Dark Chocolate Coated Blueberries
- Green tea, or a matcha latte
- ½ orange
- 1 handful spinach
- 2 mint leaves
- 1cm nub ginger
- ¼ avocado
- ¼ tsp turmeric,
- 1 handful blueberries
- 1tsp dark cacao
- water, ice.
Blend until smooth, serve in a tall glass.
Anything else you can do?
Aim for a minimum of five serves of veggies each day, include nuts and seeds, olive oil and fresh fruit as a regular part of your diet. More focus on plants means more antioxidants!