Deriving the optimum nutrients out of your food is extremely essential for your body to function optimally. As such, eating seasonal, local, and fresh with their antioxidant content intact can make a lot of difference to your diet and wellbeing. But have you ever wondered how to enhance the antioxidant content in food to tackle stress levels, and improve your fitness goals?
Notably, antioxidants are compounds present in foods that act to neutralise free radicals, thereby protecting the body from oxidative stress. “Current research suggests that antioxidants derived from dietary supplements do not exhibit the same efficacy as those naturally found in foods, emphasising the importance of acquiring these compounds through a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables,” shared Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, registered dietician and clinical nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai.
According to nutritionist Nmami Agarwal, increasing antioxidants in your body is crucial for combating oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and promoting overall health. “By incorporating these items into your diet, you can promote overall well-being and increase your body’s antioxidant defenses, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting longevity.”
“You can boost your antioxidant intake through a diverse and balanced diet,” Agarwal added as she listed five items including Arainbow foods, herbs, sprouting grains, and healthy fats, that should be incorporated into one’s diet.
Agarwal recommended consuming a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables like berries, leafy greens, and bell peppers. “They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, providing a broad spectrum of antioxidants that support immune function and cellular repair,” she said.
Herbs and spices
Incorporate basil, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and turmeric into your meals. “These herbs and spices contain compounds like polyphenols and curcumin that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in disease prevention and digestion,” said Agarwal.
Opt for sprouted grains like quinoa, amaranth, and barley. “Sprouting increases nutrient levels, including antioxidants, and improves digestibility, promoting better nutrient absorption,” said Agarwal.
According to Agarwal, one should include sources of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. “These foods provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E, which protect cells from oxidative damage and support cardiovascular health,” said Agarwal.
Agarwal recommended one should incorporate fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. “They are packed with probiotics that enhance gut health and improve nutrient absorption, indirectly boosting antioxidant availability,” said Agarwal.
Urging that antioxidant-rich foods are a delicious way to boost your health, Sonali Sarkar, certified child nutritionist said that include pecans, blueberries, strawberries, artichokes, goji berries, raspberries, kale, red cabbage, legumes (beans), beets, and spinach in your diet. “To increase your antioxidant intake, consider making these foods part of your daily routine. Enjoy them as snacks throughout the day, perhaps rotating one per day. You can also opt for dried versions to sprinkle on breakfast porridges or yogurt. For a guilt-free dessert or post-workout treat, indulge in dark chocolate with a high cocoa content,” shared Sarkar.
It is pertinent to note that the principal vitamins that function as antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. “These can be predominantly found in colorful fruits and vegetables, particularly those exhibiting purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues,” said Dr Sisodia.
What else can help?
Incorporate such antioxidant-rich ingredients into your meals by adding them to basic curries, dals, or stir-fries. “Create vibrant salads that feature a variety of these foods and aim to include at least one portion of them in two meals a day. By doing so, you’ll naturally elevate your antioxidant intake and promote overall well-being,” said Sarkar.
After all, a colourful and diverse diet not only tantalises the taste buds but also nourishes the body with the antioxidants it craves.