It’s no secret that antioxidants are incredibly beneficial to good health. It’s believed the antioxidants can help prevent cancer, reverse or slow aging, enhance your immune system, increase your energy, and improve heart and other organ health.
Given all we know about antioxidants and their beneficial properties, it’s amazing more people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables (the primary sources of antioxidants). Experts recommend a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but say getting 7-10 servings is best.
Here are 10 steps to getting more antioxidants into your diet.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hurried toaster tart on the way out the door. Throw some strawberries, 100% juice, and yogurt into a blender; pour your minute-made smoothie into a cup and head out the door. You’ve just added one to three servings of fruit to your daily intake. You can also throw some berries onto your cold or hot cereal or make/buy a fruit or yogurt parfait.
How about a handful of raisins for a snack, or some fresh red grapes? Dip some strawberries in yogurt. Need crunch? How about some baby carrots dipped in hummus? Consider a handful of pecans for crunch and a nice antioxidant boost.
3. Lunch and Dinner
It might sound trite, but adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. If you’re going classic, add some red pepper slices to your green salad, some tomatoes to the Greek salad, or tart cranberries to your field greens. Whip up a broccoli salad for lunch, or be adventurous and mix up a rice salad with a mélange of fresh vegetables like string beans, tomatoes, peppers, and red onions.
Berries (with or without whipped cream or chocolate) are a wonderful way to end your day of healthy, antioxidant-rich eating.
Replace your soda with tea or coffee, both of which boast antioxidant compounds. Have a glass of wine with dinner or, for a real change of pace, pour yourself a glass of chai tea.
6. Think Outside The Box
We know we can get our antioxidant fix from berries, salads and the like, but researchers say powerful antioxidants can also be found in a variety of unexpected foods like russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans. The beans, in fact, may have more antioxidant power than blueberries, experts say. So add some beans to your rice salad full of vegetables for a little extra boost.
7. Cook Lightly
You think you’re being good preparing vegetables each night for your family’s dinner, but if you’re overcooking the vegetables, you’re cooking out a lot of the beneficial properties of the antioxidants. Steam (don’t boil) vegetables, and stop cooking them while they still have all of their bright color and most of their bite.
8. Plant a Garden
Experts believe that people who plant and harvest vegetables from their own yards are far more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits than people who buy their produce from the store. So plant a garden, watch it grow, and eat the fruits (literally) of your labor.
9. Take Your Healthy Diet on Vacation
Too many of us consider going on vacation as an opportunity to take a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. Think of vacation as a way to be introduced to new foods. Order an interesting vegetable dish in a restaurant and then pay attention to how the chef prepared it.
10. Learn to Cook
If you’re cooking, you’re not opening bags and boxes. Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering out every night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables that provide the base for our antioxidant intake.