Consuming anti-oxidants is good for healthspan

Want to live a little longer? Then make sure you get plenty of anti-oxidants into your diet. Here are a few foods to look at.

You can’t turn back time, but if you have the right diet, you can slow it down a little. Research is increasingly pointing to the amazing power of antioxidants. They help your body develop a strong immune system, fight disease and even make sure the biological clock ticks a little bit more slowly. To generate them, though, you need to eat the right things.

What are anti-oxidants?
Your cells produce antioxidants to protect against free radicals which can help cause heart disease, cancer and other dangerous conditions.

Free radicals are tiny molecules produced every time your body digests food. They can also pop-up when you’re exposed to smoke or radiation. So, having fewer of these circulating around your body is no bad thing.

However, as interest grows, the term anti-oxidant has become a bit of a marketing buzzword and is often open to misinterpretation. Referring to it as a substance is misleading. Anti-oxidant instead, refers to chemical properties such as the ability to attract electrons.

Not all are the same. Each source has different properties so it’s important to understand what that source does and how it works.

Some of the best include vitamins C and E which help to eliminate free radicals. C is the most common antioxidant found in the skin and is liable to be lost due to external environmental stresses such as smoke. E vitamins protect the cell membranes and prevent damage to the enzymes associated with them. Good sources include vegetable oils, nuts, grains and dairy products.

Others include carotene, which is a good source of vitamin A and flavonoids which are great at scavenging those pesky free radicals.

Where to find them
While your cells can generate antioxidants, they first need the raw materials to do so, which is why diet is so important.

Good sources can be found in most plant-based foods such as cereals, vegetables or nuts, but here are a few particularly useful sources:

  • Broccoli: Get plenty into your diet and you won’t go far wrong. It is packed full of nutrients which reduce cancer risk and is a great source of carotenoids, vitamin C and fibre;
  • Fruits: Citrus fruits are especially beneficial. Oranges, grapefruits and tangerines can keep your vitamin C levels high and your immune system in top condition;
  • Tea: Tea is full of good anti-oxidants such as flavonoids which help build a good immune system;
  • Nuts: Fancy a quick snack? Grab some nuts. As well as being a great source of fibre, they are also loaded with B group vitamins, vitamin E, and flavonoids;
  • Cinnamon: If you add sugar to your porridge for flavour, try using a bit of cinnamon instead. As well as sweetening foods without sugar, it’s also one of the best sources of anti-oxidants out there;
  • Turmeric: A good addition to curries and other dishes, turmeric is notable for its bright yellow colouring. It contains the polyphenol compound, curcumin, which studies show has anti-inflammatory properties which could potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and cancer.

These are just some of the best foods to look out for. In general, a good helping of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals and other plant faced food should give your body all the fuel it needs to keep itself stocked with healthy antioxidants and keep those nasty free radicals at bay.

Image credit: nathan-dumlao / Unsplash and Alex Loup / Unsplash

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