Countless manufacturers claim that their products have magical health-giving antioxidant properties.
But what are antioxidants?
Why do we need them in our diet?
And how can they give us radiant, beautiful skin?
Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes that stop the damaging effects of oxidation which can play a role in the development of ageing, dull skin, wrinkles, cancer and many other ailments.
To explain how antioxidants can affect the health of our skin, we will need to take a trip back to our school science class…
Harmful molecules called free radicals (chemically active atoms that have a charge due to an excess or an insufficient number of electrons) can cause oxidative stress.
Free radicals containing oxygen, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), are highly unstable and run around the body grabbing and donating electrons causing damage to cells and genetic material.
Similar oxidative stress occurs when peeled apples turn brown; oils turn rancid, and iron starts to rust.
It is impossible to avoid oxidative damage as it is created by breathing, metabolism, inflammation, pollution, sunlight, exercise, smoking and alcohol.
But we can lessen the damage, and promote radiant, beautiful skin, by increasing our intake of antioxidants.
Antioxidants act like superhero’s saving our cells from free radicals by providing them with the electrons they desire, thereby neutralising them.
Nutrients with antioxidant properties include vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium.
But where can we find these nutrients? And which foods pack the most significant antioxidant punch?
A recent study published in the Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested 1113 food samples obtained from the US Department of Agriculture National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program.
The study has produced an antioxidant food table which can provide as a useful tool for investigations into the possible health benefits of dietary antioxidants.
Which antioxidant-rich foods rank top of the list?
In 12th place is unsweetened baking chocolate. To get the healthiest kick, I recommend a spoonful of raw cocoa powder in your morning smoothie!
In 11th place is grapefruit, perfect for a mid-morning snack.
In 10th place is ground cloves. Think a warm almond milk chai latte!
In 9th place are blueberries. Not quite as high as supermarkets might have let us believe.
In 8th place are pecans. Mmm, spiced pecan pie?
In 7th place are raspberries, perfect in a smoothie or with your morning muesli.
Coming in 6th place is brewed coffee. Not such a guilty treat after all!
Landing in 5th place are cranberries. Cranberry juice came in 13th so as always the whole fruit is better antioxidant value for your buck.
In 4th place is artichokes. Artichokes are by far my favourite vegetable. Try adding them to a salad or on top of a veggie pizza for mouthfuls of deliciousness.
Coming in 3rd is strawberries. Think summer berries with macadamia nut cream or tossed in an avocado salad.
Just missing out on first place are those tiny brains – walnuts! I love these as a snack or sprinkled on top my morning porridge.
But our antioxidant superfood winner is…. blackberries! Achieving first place with 5.746mool per serving blackberries are a berry must have on oatmeal, smoothies and salads.
These little superfoods may help to keep you fitter, healthier, and contribute to more radiant, beautiful skin.
What’s your favourite way to consume some antioxidant goodness? Let us know in the comments section below!
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