A simple and easy change in order to drastically improve health, wellbeing, and prevent cellular damage is to increase antioxidant intake and decrease toxic load.
Antioxidants are crucial good health because they protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals cause DNA damage, oxidation, disease, and accelerated aging, but they are kept in check by antioxidant intake.
Oxidation becomes like ‘rust’ in the body, but is dramatically slowed by the intake of antioxidants which mop up and neutralize free radicals.
Different coloured foods contain different antioxidants, so it’s important to consume a variety of colour.
Which foods rank highest for antioxidants?
Foods that contain the highest antioxidant content by weight are goji berries, blueberries (wild), pecans, cranberries, blackberries, dark chocolate (80-100%), pomegranates, kidney beans, and herbs such as clove, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, parsley, thyme, basil.
Ranking of antioxidants is based on ORAC scores (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) which is a unit of measurement for antioxidant content introduced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Raw vs cooked
It’s important to note that consuming raw vegetables maximises antioxidant intake, and so it’s important to aim for good raw fruit and veg intake each day. *For people with digestive complaints, it is preferred to consume less raw foods.
How to add more antioxidants daily
Increase vegetable intake to 5-7 serves daily (1 serve = approximately 1/2 cup)
Eat a coloured plate of fruit and veg, the more colour the better
Consume berries as your primary source of fruit
Cook with herbs and spices
Avoid peeling fruit and vegetables when possible (highest nutritional component is closest to the skin)
Steaming is the preferred cooking method to retain the most nutrients
Juicing fruit and vegetables and preparing smoothies are great ways to intake antioxidants
Add olive oil to salads or cooked meals – but don’t heat the oil. Olive oil turns rancid at high heat, however it is extremely high in antioxidants, one of the primary reasons that the Mediterranean diet is such a success.
Incorporate high antioxidant nuts such as brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, and walnuts as snack options
Switch to dark chocolate which is often lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants flavonoids and polyphenols. 80-100% cacao is preferred.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in Camberwell and South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone. Book here.