Salute the Sun — Its relaxing, therapeutic, and, depending on the kind of practice you have, a good workout. Now yoga has also been found to naturally produce antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are those free-radical fighting molecules that can help prevent disease, stave off premature aging and fight many of the ailments we suffer from in the modern world. So if you want a boost of preventative power, namaste away!
Take a breath — According to the same study cited above, people who incorporated breathing and meditation into their daily yoga practice received even more antioxidant benefit than people who incorporated exercise alone. So whether it’s on the yoga mat or your morning subway commute, for an extra health boost, take a few minutes to relax and breathe. Breathing helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Get Your Daily C Shot — Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants for boosting your immune system and preventing all kinds of diseases, including cancer. Oranges, kiwifruit and black currants pack a punch, but if you’d prefer an unsweetened dose of Vitamin C, try a bell pepper— one bell pepper contains a whopping 253% of your daily requirement!
Eat your leafy greens — Kale, watercress, swiss chard and spinach all score high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, or ANDI, which measures the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Throw in some purple cabbage [link to purple foods article?] for a pop of color and added antioxidant value, and you’ve got a superfood salad!
Have a cuppa! — It’s long been known that both green and black tea contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols may boost insulin sensitivity, slow down the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar and ward off Type 2 Diabetes, among other super-healthy benefits. Kenyan Purple Tea, a new tea varietal exclusively grown in the high altitude environment around Mount Kenya, also contains anthocyanins, powerful compounds that can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases and boost cognitive function.
Incorporate Nuts and Seeds — Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are excellent sources of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to play a role in conditions related to aging. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds also provide a healthy dose of magnesium and zinc, leading to lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and heart and liver health. Next time you’re making a salad, just sprinkle a handful of these delicious nuts and seeds on top for a crunchy, nutty antioxidant punch.
Drink wine (but not too much) — Red wine (in moderation, of course) is a heart healthy way to up your daily dose of antioxidant. Red wine contains resveratol, a polyphenol that may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. In fact, research is even being done to see if the antioxidants found in red wine could be used to treat people with heart disease! How’s that for a good excuse for a glass of wine.
Pack up your Vegetable Peeler — The phytochemicals that give plants color are also the source of many potent antioxidants (not to mention healthy fiber!). Leaving the skin on your apples, carrots, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables can increase the antioxidant levels by up to 328%!
Spice it Up! — We hear a lot about red and purple vegetables, nuts and drinks like wine and tea being sources of antioxidant goodness, but what about the garnish? Spices like oregano, ginger, turmeric, yellow mustard seed and ground cloves deliver a potent source of antioxidants, and are an easy way to up any meal’s vitamin concentration. Sprinkle some cinnamon on your breakfast, or chili powder on your beans and rice, for a dose of flavor that does as good as it tastes.
Most importantly, Think Different — Next time you’re in the produce aisle, try something new. In a 2006 study, researchers at Colorado State University found that people who ate the widest variety of fruits and vegetables had more DNA protection than people who stuck to a tried and true palate. Let your eyes be your guide: a rich variety of colors including red, purple, yellow, green and orange plants will give you the most bang for your buck, and taste great too.