Yesterday was my cardio day. I did a high interval jump rope session (30 seconds jump rope, 30 seconds rest) for 20 minutes. Afterwards, I went for a quick light jog to maximize my fat burning potential.
My house is on a pretty long street. As soon as I walk onto it, I start my jog towards one corner and I just go back and forth 4 times (which equals about 20 minutes of light running). Living in the midwest has it’s humid days. This summer is record-breaking. 100′s several days in a row along with 80% plus humidity is a bear. It’s 10:00pm and I’m till sweating like a pig. That’s okay, I feel pretty good as I visualize all my toxins rushing out of my pores!
Then a car drives by and I get a big whif of air….aaaahhhh. But wait! What is this air? Am I breathing in fumes? Am I defeating the purpose of purging my toxins if I’m inhaling it right back? Then I started thinking about free radicals and how I heard pollution is a major contributor to enabling those little suckers to run rampant throughout our bodies. Snap! Then I remembered that antioxidants are one of the best ways to prevent free radicals from attacking us.
As soon as I got home (and cooled down a little), I ran to my computer. What are antioxidants? I had an idea but wasn’t 100% sure. Then I started wondering how many of us actually do know what are antioxidants and how they can help us live healthier lives. An idea is born!
What are Antioxidants?
The best source of information I found was the mayo clinic. Before you learn what are antioxidants, you need to know what free radicals are. Free radicals are molecules that form due to the use of oxygen in the body. They are highly reactive and can interact with good cells in the body and damage them.
In other words, as the body uses oxygen, these molecules cause oxidative damage to the cells in the body. Free radicals are formed from smoking, pesticides, pollution (car exhausts), fried foods, excessive sunlight and stress. It is associated with the risk of many chronic diseases.
Antioxidants reduces the damage caused by free radicals. So what are antioxidants? Just to name a few…they are vitamins C and E, lycopene, carotene, lutein and many other substances.
What are Antioxidants? Supplement vs. food?
Research indicates that taking simply taking antioxidant supplements is not the best way to go about getting what your body needs. In fact, it’s possible that some of these supplements could be harmful.
Fortunately, research is also increasingly showing that you can reap the potential health benefits of antioxidant intake by eating a diet rich in antioxidant-containing foods.
Also, a supplement may contain a few antioxidant sources but foods can contains THOUSANDS of types of antioxidants.
When it comes to antioxidant intake, no one food or food group should be your sole focus. It’s best to include a wide variety of foods as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Some of the better sources of antioxidants include:
- Berries — Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are among the top sources of antioxidants.
- Beans — Small red beans and kidney, pinto and black beans are all choices rich in antioxidants.
- Fruits — Many apple varieties (with peel) are high in antioxidants, as are avocados, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple, kiwi and others.
- Vegetables — Those with the highest antioxidant content include artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes (with peel), sweet potatoes and broccoli. Although the effect of cooking on antioxidant levels varies by cooking method and vegetable, one study showed that cooking generally increased levels among select vegetables.
- Beverages — Green tea may come to mind as a good source of antioxidants, but other beverages have high levels, too, including coffee, red wine and many fruit juices such as pomegranate.
- Nuts — Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content.
- Herbs — These may be unexpected suppliers of antioxidants, but ground cloves, cinnamon and ginger, dried oregano leaf and turmeric powder are all good sources.
- Grains — In general, oat-based products are higher in antioxidants than are those derived from other grain sources.
- And for dessert — Done forget that a piece of dark chocolate ranks as high or higher than most fruits and vegetables in terms of antioxidant content.Every morning, I make a smoothie in the blender. I throw in a cup of berries (raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries). I also throw in some almonds and a big scoop of supergreens that includes veggies and other antioxidant-rich components.