It’s easy to get lost among all the new diet terms being thrown around. Master cleanse, paleo, veganism, how do you know which diet is the healthiest of them all? No matter which diet you decide to follow, there’s one thing you should definitely focus on getting more of: antioxidants. Antioxidants has been the new buzzword of the health industry for a while now. Ever since their potential to halt and reverse ageing was discovered, everyone’s been clamoring to get more of these in their diet. But just what foods contain these miracle compounds and how do you make sure you get enough of them? These tips will ensure that you get your daily dose of antioxidants and stay young from the inside out.
1. Prep Your Veggies The Right Way
We all know vegetables are chock full of antioxidants but are we eating them the right way? As much as possible, avoid peeling vegetables before eating them as most of the nutrition and antioxidants lie in the vegetable peel. Steaming your vegetables is the best way to cook them as it minimizes nutrition loss and keeps all their antioxidant properties intact. If you must cook them over heat, flash cook them by cooking them for a few minutes over very high heat. Cooking them for a longer time over slow heat will result in more antioxidants getting lost.
2. Make Your Meals Colorful
Colorful meals aren’t just more Instagram-worthy, they’re also a lot healthier. The more colors you have on your plate, the more antioxidants you’re getting. Red and yellow peppers, bright green broccoli, sunny yellow egg yolks and deep red beans are all antioxidant powerhouses. Don’t stress over getting the most expensive, exotic varieties of fruits and vegetables. No matter which one is the new superfood of the moment, all fruits and vegetables are incredibly healthy and antioxidant rich.
3. Choose Your Beverage Wisely
Water is important of course, but you can switch it out for an antioxidant rich beverage a couple times a day. Green tea is obviously the most popular choice for its super high antioxidant levels, but good news, coffee has a lot of antioxidants too. If you do choose to drink coffee, don’t add extra sugar and cream as this can completely negate the positive qualities of coffee. Stick to plain black coffee but be wary because if you drink too much, you’re going to be running on a caffeine high. If you’re drinking low caffeine drinks like green tea, matcha tea or white tea, drink at least three cups a day to meet your antioxidant requirements.
4. Don’t Stick To Bland Food
Who said healthy food was boring? Spices and herbs don’t just add flavor to your food, they also contribute to your antioxidant intake. Try using fresh herbs as much as possible because they have a lot more antioxidants than the dry kinds. When it comes to spices, you can’t go wrong with turmeric. Not only does it give your food a bright golden hue, but it’s also packed to the brim with antioxidants. Turmeric also has a very mild flavor, so you can add it to almost anything without the fear of it overpowering the other tastes. Chili powder too has a high level of antioxidants, so sprinkle it liberally over your dishes when you need an extra kick.
5. Choose Red Sauce Over White
Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, becomes more bio-available when it’s cooked and pureed. For this reason, you can increase your antioxidant intake dramatically if you choose red sauce instead of white. Most white sauce dishes can be substituted with red, so even a pasta binge doesn’t have to leave you feeling guilty. Bonus points if you add flavor with antioxidant-rich spices and herbs!
6. Snack On Nuts And Fruits
Who doesn’t love a quick snack in between meals? If your idea of a snack is opening up a bag of potato chips, then it’s time for you to switch. Snacking on nuts and fruits when you’re hungry is healthy and delicious. Throw in a handful of seeds like pumpkin, melon or sunflower and you’ve just antioxidant-charged your mid-day snack. You could also try eating fruits for dessert instead of sugary cakes and pies.
7. Go Easy On The Alcohol
A weekly beer with your colleagues will probably not do much damage, but if you drink alcohol frequently, you might want to put a cap on that. Alcohol produces free radicals in your body, substances which antioxidants try so desperately to eliminate. Even if you’re trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, binging on alcohol later can undo all your hard work.
8. Limit Processed Foods And Red Meat
Bacon, salami and sausages are a feast for your taste buds, but they are loaded with preservatives to prevent them from spoiling. When these preservatives enter your body, they produce free radicals which can damage your cells. Red meat contains high levels of iron, which is especially prone to oxidation. So, if you want your antioxidant-rich diet to be effective, limit or completely eliminate red meat and processed foods.