Oxidation in your body releases free radicals (unstable atomic particles) that attach to your physical molecular structure and cause damage. The effects can include premature aging, illness and general physical decline. Antioxidants attach to free radicals, stopping the oxidation chain reaction that results in damage, and they are flushed out of your system through your normal waste elimination process. Here are just a few plants that are especially great sources of antioxidants.
There are several berries that contain antioxidants, but not all are available in the fresh form. For example, the maqui berry scores high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test but usually only comes in powdered form, according to Jem Organics. Consider adding this beneficial powder to a smoothie for a snack. Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are easier to find and are loaded with antioxidants. Mix cut strawberries with plain yogurt, and add a sprinkle of low sugar granola for a breakfast parfait. Make a bowl of oatmeal, and add dried cranberries, fresh blueberries and some almond milk for an antioxidant boost.
Hemp seeds are a terrific way to increase your antioxidant intake by blending them into your smoothies, mixing them into your homemade protein bars, blending them into a salad dressing, or just sprinkling them on a salad. It’s important to note that hemp seeds are not used for getting high or altering anything other than your health. Hemp is not THC. It’s a member of the larger family of non-intoxicating cannabinoids associated with hemp. Vegetarians will be excited to learn that hemp is a complete protein and needs no pairing partner. According to SuperNature CBD, the antioxidant properties of CBD are stronger than plain vitamins C and E. Finally, hemp seeds provide both soluble and insoluble fiber.
A simple way to both boost your antioxidant intake and manage your food budget is to increase your intake of beans. According to Garden Guides, both red kidney beans and pinto beans are high on the USDA’s top twenty list of foods high in antioxidants. You can stretch your grocery dollars by using dried pinto beans to make homemade crock pot refried beans. Pair these with whole wheat tortillas and some cheese for a hearty dose of protein, antioxidants and budget-friendly foods.
Increasing your antioxidant intake will also boost your consumption of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which you should be getting daily anyway through healthy foods or supplements. However, it’s also a good idea to do your best to reduce your free radical intake. Avoid excess alcohol, processed and red meats and foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugars when possible. If you do splurge, make sure to add foods high in antioxidants to the rest of your intake during the week.