3 Ways to Boost Your Antioxidant Levels
Antioxidants come up often in health and nutrition worlds, much like superfoods or probiotics. But how much do you really know about them? And why should you care?
All About Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. You can also find them in supplements. Antioxidants play an important role in protecting the body from free radicals, which are molecules that, in excess, threaten to throw off the body’s normal functions. Not all free radicals are bad, but having too many can damage a cell’s DNA, which can cause broad reaching, negative effects throughout the body. Some free radicals are formed naturally within the body, but environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light, also increase your exposure.
Apart from keeping free radicals in check, antioxidants have been shown to have properties that benefit the immune system, so it’s easy to see why it’s important to load up on antioxidants. Here are three ways to do it.
1. Eat antioxidant-rich foods
Antioxidants are primarily found in plant-based foods, particularly those rich in polyphenols. To find food rich in polyphenols, look for bright colors, like jewel-toned hues found in grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and apples. You can also sip antioxidant-rich beverages, such as fruit juices, green tea, and even coffee or wine.
2. Take an antioxidant supplement
CoQ10, which is a vitamin-like molecule found within virtually every living cell, acts as a powerful antioxidant. Even though CoQ10 occurs naturally within the body, your levels diminish as you age, particularly if you’re under a great deal of stress, or if you take statin medications to lower your cholesterol. Taking a supplement will help restore your CoQ10 levels and assist you in preventing free radicals from causing damage.
3. Consider your cooking method
Research has shown that the way you prepare your fruits and vegetables can affect antioxidant content. Microwaving and baking have the best results, while boiling and pressure cooking tend to reduce antioxidants the most.
Boosting antioxidants doesn’t need to be a confusing and difficult process. Simply sticking to a healthy lifestyle and making sure your diet is filled with fruits and vegetables, as well as including appropriate supplements, will keep you on the right track.
About the Author:
Moira Lawler earned her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Since then, she’s written about a range of lifestyle topics, but she loves health and fitness the most. She has written for magazines and websites, including Men's Health, Crain's Chicago Business, Shape.com, WomensHealthMag.com, and MichiganAveMag.com. When she’s not writing, Moira’s probably running or walking in her hometown of Chicago, always trying to reach her daily step goal.
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- Scott Mason