What Can Antioxidants Do for You?

With summer just around the corner, chances are your taste buds will be craving the refreshing, replenishing, delicious yet nutritious taste of berries.  From smoothies to fruit salads, berries are a summer trend.  And with the colorful burst of summer berries comes the immense health benefit: a boost in antioxidants.

But what are antioxidants, really?  What can antioxidants do for you?  When you think about antioxidants whose source is food, you’re really thinking about resveratrol, an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to stress.  Why is this important?  Resveratrol has been found to counteract the negative effects of free radicals.  Free radicals, though key in regulating the body’s metabolism and immunity, start to cause problems when they are in overabundance.  A wide variety of lifestyles, including poor diet, insufficient sleep, irregular exercise, stress and exposure to environmental factors such as pollution and radiation, can cause such spikes in free radical counts.  When this happens, you risk damaging your tissues, leading to aging, disease, and even reproductive complications.

But here’s the good news: by eating the right foods, rich in resveratrol of course, you can combat those extra free radicals and be your healthy, thriving self.   The best way to get your healthy dose of resveratrol is to eat a regular diet rich in fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries, according to the USDA Human Nutrition Center, are number one in antioxidant activity.  While other berries, such as lingonberries and cranberries are other great sources, it is important to be aware of the high levels of sugars common to berries.  So be sure to eat your vegetables.  Some of the best sources of antioxidants include yellow onions, broccoli, leeks, artichokes and potatoes.  Even spices have antioxidants.  Try some oregano in your next prepared meal for a quick and concentrated antioxidant.  And if you’re craving that summer sweetness, stick to blueberries, black currants, strawberries, blackberries and plums for a sweet, yet antioxidant-infused fix.

Just a few of the benefits you can consider when you eat your next plate of blueberries and broccoli:

Decrease effects of aging
Lowered insulin and inflammation
Increased blood flow to the brain
Strengthened memory and concentration
Regulated circulation of blood
Prevention against the spread of cancer cells
Neural protection against development of Alzheimer’s

So eat up and enjoy!  Your body will thank you.

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