The first time I heard the word “antioxidants” was approximately 10 years ago. Two of my best friends gave me what they thought was the best birthday present ever—a book called “The Super Antioxidants". I must admit, I didn’t read it, and five years later, I immigrated to Australia from Argentina and left it behind.
The book sat on a shelf for five more years before exposing its “magical powers”. It completely changed my dad’s life after he found it a couple months ago. His enthusiasm is so contagious that antioxidants are now a common topic during our weekly FaceTime calls.
So, what are antioxidants? In a few words, antioxidants fight oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies, but when there is a disruption, oxidation creates free radicals that may cause damage to our cells. This could initiate many types of diseases (cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s), skin aging and cognitive problems—the list goes on-and-on. Antioxidants deactivate these free radicals before they attack the cells, protecting the cells from damage.
So, if antioxidants are our allies, how can we increase our intake and help our cells in their everyday battle against free radicals? Here are the tips my dad gave me after reading the book:
Green tea: Who doesn’t like tea? Green tea is full of flavonoids and catechins, two very powerful antioxidants. I have a ritual, “maté” in the morning (a South American green tea) and normal green tea about an hour after lunch (tea may suppress iron absorption if consumed straight after a meal). Besides incorporating antioxidants, my ritual helps me stay hydrated—two benefits in one.
Garlic: Yes, I know, the smell. But garlic makes any meal taste amazing. I’m trying to use it every time I cook. I even buy minced garlic, which makes cooking easy if I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to peel and chop the garlic. My dad also suggested garlic tablets—they do not smell and you get your daily dose. I still prefer to use garlic for cooking, but the choice is yours!
Berries: I absolutely LOVE berries. They are great in smoothies! I usually have a portion of blueberries with my yogurt and muesli in the morning. Besides antioxidants, berries are a great source of Vitamin K, C and Mn, and they also reduce inflammation. Other fruits like apples, mangoes, peaches and melons also have a good quantity of antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate: I must admit, I’m a huge chocolate fan. Ever since I discovered it is a good source of antioxidants, I have the perfect excuse to eat it.
Broccoli: My dad didn’t mention this one—he never liked it. I researched and broccoli came up as a good source of antioxidants. I usually make broccoli pie with onion and cheese because it tastes amazing!
I invite you to search the internet for additional research, articles from different sources and to form your own opinion. Antioxidants have existed forever, but now there is a huge flow of information readily available for us. The key is to be open to learning more about caring for our bodies and how to be healthier. When I was given the book, I was not ready for it, but I am happy I forgot about it because now I can’t wait to visit my family next Christmas and read it with my dad. And yes, I will thank my friends, too!