If you pay any attention to the world of health and wellness, perhaps you’ve come across the phrase “free radicals.”
And it seems that these free radicals are virtually always mentioned in some kind of negative context.
So, who are these wellness villains?
What are Free Radicals?
“Free radicals” is a general term that people use to refer to harmful components that come into existence in your body.
Since free radicals are highly reactive, they have the ability to bind to and subsequently cause harm to your cells.
In practical terms, this means that free radicals can potentially contribute to increased risk or exacerbation of various medical conditions, including cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.
What’s more, they can also contribute to premature signs of aging, such as wrinkles, age spots and loss of firmness in skin.
Free radicals occur in the body spontaneously, as a result of regular metabolism processes. However, their production can be accelerated through bad habits, such as smoking or overconsumption of junk food.
With this in mind, the solution for battling free radicals in your body should be obvious: establishing a healthy lifestyle, which should primarily be reflected in your eating habits.
And one of the most valuable weapons in this fight are antioxidants, which are potent is reducing or eliminating all the waste and toxins that accumulate in your cells.
So, what are some of the ways you can boost the presence of antioxidants in your day-to-day life?
To help you out on, we have prepared a list of suggestions on how to replenish your fridge, pantry and beauty cabinet with antioxidant-packed goodies.
Give Yourself a Cacao Kick
Cacao is the name of the bean which grows on the Theobromas cacao tree in tropical regions across the globe.
And what makes cacao beans so great when it comes to fighting free radicals?
Well, these supercharging nuggets possess higher concentration on flavonoids – in fact, more than any other widely consumed ingredient.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants which provide the pigment for plants and shield them from pathogens and other kinds of damage and mutation.
The flavonoids found in cacao beans are called catechins, which comprise around 10 percent of cacao powder.
These potent antioxidants can help with cardiovascular diseases, high blood sugar, but also contribute to a more balanced appearance of your skin.
However, don’t take this as a cue to go out and stuff yourself with run-of-the-mill milk chocolate in an effort to replenish your bodies with catechins.
To maximize on the benefits of cacao, go for a rich dark chocolate that is made up of at least 65% cacao.
Even better, try to introduce raw cacao powder into your diet. You can also try to add cacao nibs to your morning oatmeal.
The only thing to keep in mind is not to mix it up with cacao powder with cocoa, as the process of making the latter causes the beans to lose some of their nutritional value.
Raw cacao powder can be a great addition into your morning oatmeal, as well as various smoothies and desserts.
Learn to Love Leafy Greens
Plants have their own mechanisms for fighting against free radicals, which is why some of them are loaded with antioxidants of all stripes.
And one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world of edible plants are leafy greens, which should undoubtedly occupy a significant place in the diet of every health conscious person.
And if you’re not quite sure how to start incorporating these green superchargers in your diet, begin with the easiest one.
Due to its mild flavor and culinary versatility, spinach is a favorite starter-level leafy green.
It’s loaded with potassium, which can help boost your muscle activity and regulate your blood pressure.
This green treat is at its healthiest when consumed raw, and the easiest way to introduce it to your day-to-day meals is to throw it in a blender together with other fruit and veggies to make a delicious smoothie.
In recent years, kale has become the undisputed king of healthy leaves. This deep-green chewy veggie is absolutely packed with lutein, which can greatly improve your eyesight.
As kale tends the be on the more bitter side of leafy greens, you can sauté it or mix with a sweeter fruit to balance out the taste.
Up Your Citrus Intake
The stronger your immunity system, the more equipped your body will be in the fight against free radicals.
And one of the most effective ways to boost your immunity levels is simply to start consuming more lemons, oranges and other citrusy goodness.
Not only will consuming these zesty treats be super-refreshing for your body, the antioxidants found in them will also help neutralize free radicals in your body, prevent blood clots, reduce chances of stroke and ward off signs of aging.
One of the most important components in citrus fruits is Vitamin C, which has reparative, anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties.
Lemon, one of the most common citrus fruit, can be a great weapon for purifying your body of harmful toxins and other waste.
Orange, on the other hand, is packed with carotenoids and flavonoids which can help reduce oxidative damage and prevent a host of diseases and neurological disorders.
Consuming grapefruit can also help reduce oxidative stress; due to its low number of calories, it’s also a perfect superfood for people looking to shed some pounds.
To make the most out of these citrusy goodies, consume them raw or squeeze them into a juice.
If the taste is too bitter or sour for your liking, combine your lemon or grapefruit with a sweeter natural ingredient that will mellow out its flavor.
Get into Berries
One food group that you’ll often see mentioned in relation with antioxidants are berries.
And for good reason, too: these bite-sized powerhouses are one of the richest sources of antioxidants in nature.
Not only are berries low in calories, they also have the power to counteract free radicals in our cells and slow down aging processes as a consequence.
Moreover, your palate will be pleased to hear that berry pallet is varied and plentiful.
For example, blackberries are notably high in fiber compared to other fruits – one glass of these goodies contains up to 7 grams of fiber, which is about a quarter of the prescribed daily intake. They are also packed with Vitamin C, as well as iron, calcium and Vitamin A.
Blueberries represent a true treasure trove of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – especially calcium, iron and Vitamin C. These berries are can be effective in preventing various heart-related diseases, as well as regulating high blood sugar and fats.
Raspberries are well known for their antioxidant powers, a reputation owed to high concentration of Vitamin C found in this fruit. They also contain a large doses of folic acid, calcium and magnesium. Regular consumption of raspberries can be incredibly beneficial for people suffering from constipation and a host of other medical conditions.
Enriching your everyday diet with berries should be easy as ABC. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, or simply snack them on their own whenever you need an energy boost throughout the day.
Garlic is Your Friend
When it comes to fighting free radicals, garlic deserves to be in a category of its own.
Well, this pungent veggie is a real superstar when it comes to health-boosting properties.
To begin with, garlic contains high doses of allicin, which can help relieve high blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol levels.
Antioxidative properties of garlic can also help prevent a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Garlic can also help combat symptoms of common cold, such as a sore throat, stuffy nose and coughs.
And this is not all – garlic is also loaded with selenium, which can amplify the antioxidant properties found in other ingredients.
In order to maximize the health benefits of garlic, it’s advisable to consume it raw.
Drinking lemon juice after eating garlic can help neutralize the unpleasant smell. You can also use squeezed lemon to remove garlic stench from your hands and your chopping board!
Snack on Nuts
Another snack-friendly food that’s loaded with antioxidants are nuts.
Because of the high concentration of vitamins, minerals and other good-for-you components, nuts can reduce chances of heart diseases, help with weight loss, insomnia, but also boost your memory.
For example, walnuts are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your memory and act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
They can also help relax blood vessels, which can be beneficial for people with heart conditions. Moreover, they can help decrease bad cholesterol and prevent occurrence of blood clots.
Almonds possess all the nourishing properties of their nutty siblings, plus a high concentration of plant-based proteins, which make them a great addition for people who are looking to lose weight. They are also a rich source of Vitamin E, which can boost your mental capacities and do a lot of good for your hair, skin and nails.
Another nutrient-rich nut that you can introduce to your diet are peanuts. That’s right, who knew everyone’s favorite bar snack would also be good for your health?
Peanuts are loaded with resveratrol, a bioactive compound that boosts cardiovascular health and contributes to deceleration of aging processes in the body.
Put More Veggies on Your Plate
A surefire way to infuse your day-to-day meals with heart-healthy antioxidants is simply to stock up on all those delicious veggies and reach for them whenever you prepare your lunch or dinner.
Most of these nature-derived goodies are packed with nutrients that can be effective in the combat against free radical.
One of the most hailed vegetables in the world of nutrition is the tomato.
The key ingredient for warding off illnesses found in tomatoes is called lycopene, a phytonutrient which can be effective in shielding your DNA from potential damage.
For a more palate-enticing option, make sure to chop a bit of chili pepper into your everyday dishes. Not only will this give your culinary palette a bit of a kick, it will also replenish your body with Vitamin A, a body-restoring nutrient especially beneficial for eyes, lungs and skin.
If you can’t imagine a life without potatoes, but still want to try out something healthier, why not switch to their more nourishing equivalent?
Thanks to their rich, satisfying taste, sweet potatoes will please even the pickiest eaters, while high amounts of Vitamin A, C and calcium will help rejuvenate your body.
Look for Antioxidants in Skin Care
So far, we’ve learned that free radicals are never good news for the health of your organs.
On a more superficial level, did you know that free radicals can also have negative effects on your skin?
That’s right – when your body experiences increased occurrence of free radicals, your skin cells are affected, too.
Over time, these processes can result in a number of visible negative consequences on your complexion – from loss of elasticity to fine lines, age spots and wrinkles.
That’s why it’s important to not only consume high doses of antioxidants, but to apply them on your skin, as well.
The benefits of introducing antioxidants in your skin care regimen are numerous.
For starters, antioxidants will help counteract signs of premature aging. This means that antioxidant-infused skin care products have to power to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, but also to plump your complexion and make your skin firmer and more voluminous.
Since antioxidants also possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, incorporating them in your beauty routine can certainly help you if you suffer from sensitive, damage-prone skin.
Finally, free radicals can also cause your complexion to become sallow and grey, which is why you need to restore the balance in your skin by treating it to an antioxidant-infused toner.
Now that you’ve learned all the ways you can fight against free radicals, it’s time to put knowledge into practice. With a body-boosting, nutritious diet and a couple of skin care tweaks, you will successfully begin your journey towards a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.