How to Increase Antioxidant Levels

What are antioxidants? These substances are found in the body. They come from the foods that we eat. Their main purpose is to combat the effects of free radicals in the body.

Free radicals are by-products of the process known as cellular respiration. As oxygen is metabolized, substances are released that can wreak havoc on the internal systems. This includes wrinkles, cataracts, digestive ailments, arthritis, cancer and more. Free radicals also come from our external environment: pollution, cigarette smoke, stress and the sun.

Antioxidants in their many forms neutralize free radicals. In effect, they prevent them from latching on to our delicate organs.

So, how do we get these antioxidants? There are many sources that you may have already heard about. Think of vitamin A, C and E for beginners. Some minerals like zinc also have antioxidant properties. Many foods contain these vitamins and other vital antioxidants like lycopene, flavonoids, lignans and such.

What does this mean to you? Antioxidants are all around you but you have to know where to look. Antioxidants are even showing up as functional substances. They are being added to foods (juices, milk, sodas etc.) and cosmetic products (skin cream, cleansers and soap). But, they are best in their natural form as food - especially fruit and vegetables.

Boosting your antioxidant levels is a matter of knowing where to find them and incorporating those foods in your daily diet.

* Try a juicer – Juicers have been a big product, especially with fitness and health guru Jack Lalanne. Juicing fruits and vegetables increases their potency and antioxidant value. Also, you get to taste their natural essence instead of when it is covered with sauces and dressings.

* Smoothies – Fruit smoothies are easy to make and can include whatever fruit combination you desire. Use fresh (when available) or frozen fruits. You can make a batch and freeze it. When you are ready, thaw out a cup and have it for breakfast or as a snack when you want something sweet.

* Add vegetables to sauces and casseroles – What better way to slip in a few extra antioxidant-rich foods than by dicing them into soups, sauces and casserole dishes? It works for picky children who need their veggies but don’t want to eat them.

* Plan ahead – We often eat poorly when we are in a hurry. Planning ahead for the next day’s meals so you can reach for foods that will help you fight aging and illness whenever you want something to eat.

Antioxidants are one of the keys to longevity. Adding more of them to your diet can increase your chances of a healthy, good-looking life now and in the future.