You've probably heard of antioxidants before. You may even know that they're found in certain foods (and skincare products) and that it's important to get enough of them — but most people would be hard-pressed to say exactly why. Many are left wondering what the benefits of antioxidants really are!
It helps to define antioxidants in super clear terms. In short, they're substances that fight damage caused by free radicals. Our bodies create free radicals when we process certain foods or come into contact with harmful substances like pollution.
Free radicals aren't as cool as they sound
The body has its own ways of dealing with free radicals, but if they build up too much, they can cause something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to everything from aging to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
This doesn't mean that you should worry about ending up with some terrible disease if you're not getting enough antioxidants. It's never that simple when it comes to your health! But it is a good idea to get more of them in your life.
The main benefits of antioxidants
It's obvious that antioxidants are good for your health, but you may be wondering exactly what they can do. We've got you covered! Adding more antioxidants to your routine can result in the following benefits:
- Healthy, beautiful skin: Free radicals can weaken the elasticity of skin all over your body, making it look less fresh. Antioxidants in body lotions and masks help combat that effect and bring bounce back to your skin.
- Fewer sick days: Following a diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables — the main food sources of antioxidants — is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. If you always seem to get sick at the wrong time, antioxidants could help keep you sniffle-free leading up to your next big presentation or fun night out.
- A sharper mind: Getting more antioxidants into your diet may help slow cognitive decline and keep you on top of your game. One study in particular found that drinking blueberry juice for 12 weeks helped adults with early memory changes feel less depressed and improved their word recall. Trivia night, anyone?
How to get more antioxidants into your life
Your body makes its own antioxidants but there are some pretty important ones that you need to get from other sources. Luckily, there are plenty of ways how to do that as part of your daily routine! Here are five strategies you might want to consider adopting.
1. Eat the rainbow
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with antioxidants, as well as other beneficial nutrients like fiber. Different colors indicate different antioxidants — for example, orange foods like carrots and sweet potatoes contain beta carotene — so try to incorporate as many different colors as you can into each meal.
2. Look for skincare products with antioxidant ingredients
It's easier than ever to find products that harness the benefits of antioxidants. Grab yourself some body moisturizers, hand and foot masks, creams and other items that contain food-derived antioxidants (like ones from blackberries or green tea) or products that contain vitamins A (also known as retinol), C and E.
3. Prep your food strategically
How your food is cooked and prepared can determine its antioxidant content. In general, it's best to eat fruits and veggies without removing the skin and opting to steam veggies instead of roasting them (this helps them retain more of their nutritional value). Want to save time and maximize the amount of antioxidants you can enjoy? Eat your greens raw whenever you can!
4. When in doubt, drink some tea
Green, matcha, white, peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus — all of these teas are chock-full of antioxidants. Try swapping one of your daily cups of coffee for a mug of tea for an instant boost your body is sure to appreciate.
5. Prioritize sleep
Remember that bit about your body producing its own antioxidants? Well, research suggests that getting enough sleep can actually ramp up your body's production of certain antioxidants. So, by doing your best to get adequate shut-eye each night, you could enjoy a bunch of associated benefits!
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