There are staples to our daily diet that we just don't question, like the importance of eight glasses of water a day, the benefits of a multivitamin, or the recommended servings of fruits and veggies. One of the biggest staples in our diet is antioxidants. What, exactly, is it about antioxidants that makes them so significant? According to Authority Nutrition, antioxidants are molecules that fight damage created by unstable molecules (called free radicals) that can harm cellular structures like DNA. Our bodies require a specific balance of free radical molecules (pro-oxidants) and antioxidants. Too much pro-oxidants can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause cell death and other negative effects. Antioxidants are essential to our survival, and our diet is our body's go-to source. Check out these antioxidant-rich foods for some fun ways to spice up your menu!
Green tea: Green tea contains the most antioxidants of any tea, but all tea is packed full of disease-fighting elements. To get the most out of your tea, try steeping it for a couple extra minutes! Click here to learn more about the benefits of tea! (via Authority Nutrition)
Beans: Not only are beans packed full of protein, but they are also a great source of antioxidants! Red, black, pinto and kidney beans will make a healthy addition to your family's meals! Try our Quinoa Wrap with Black Beans, Feta and Avocado for a great lunch on the go! (via WebMD)
Berries: All fruit contains antioxidants, but a cup of cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries will really pack a punch! To learn more about berries, click here! (via Authority Nutrition)
Nuts: Studies have shown that the consumption of tree nuts reduces our risk for coronary heart diseases! If you are short on time, try a handful of walnuts or pecans as a snack in between meals. For our favorite trail mix recipes, click here! (via National Institutes of Health)
>> Read more: Glossary of Foods: Tigernuts
Plums: Whether you prefer fresh, juicy plums or the succulent chewiness of prunes, these babies are packed full of nutritious antioxidants for you and your family! (via Reader's Digest)
Coffee: Surprisingly, coffee is actually the single greatest source of antioxidants in the western diet. Adding a cup or two of coffee will give you an added boost of caffeine and protection! Check out the other benefits of coffee here! (via Authority Nutrition)
Apples: It's no longer just a catchy saying! An apple a day really can keep the doctor away. They are a key component in reducing the risk of heart disease and possibly even cancer! (via WebMD)
Artichokes: Artichokes are one of the most powerful foods out there. According to the United States Department of Agriculture they rank seventh in total antioxidant capacity per serving out of more than 1,000 other foods! (via Fitness Magazine)
Dark chocolate: Don't tell your kids, but dark chocolate and cocoa have some of the most potent antioxidants compared to most other foods. Just remember that a little goes a long way! (via Authority Nutrition)
Adding these foods to your diet is an easy, convenient way to load up on antioxidants and protect your immune system. With the flu season settling in, now is your chance to take action and shield your family against sickness!