The secret to anti-ageing?
Antioxidants are the great slayer of free radicals – molecules naturally produced by the body that are increased by external factors such as pollution, tobacco or UV rays, creating what’s called oxidative stress. When this happens, the body’s cells malfunction, causing an excess of free radicals that leads to prematurely ageing skin – as well as the development of certain diseases. So the role of antioxidants is to protect cells against free radicals. Vitamins, pro-vitamins, trace minerals, micronutrients, polyphenols... all are antioxidants and are found in foods as well as being manufactured by the body itself.
Eat up your antioxidants
Antioxidants are present in a number of foods that we consume on a daily basis. But the quality of the antioxidants found in different foods varies according to how fresh they are and how they are stored, so we need to eat as much fresh and unprocessed produce as possible. To get our quota of vitamin A, we need eggs and dairy products; for vitamin E, we need vegetable oils, peanuts, broccoli, spinach and avocado; and for vitamin C, we need citrus fruits. We should also eat carotenoids, which are found in carrots, peppers, tomatoes, melons, apricots, kale, peas, courgettes and lettuce. Drinks-wise, coffee, chocolate (hooray!), tea and red wine (double hooray!) contain beneficial polyphenols.
Goji berries are at the top of the list of 100% natural antioxidant foods. And there are plenty of other nutritionally packed superfoods, including herbs and spices like oregano, turmeric and cloves. A pinch of dried oregano will provide you with almost your entire recommended daily intake of antioxidants! Other antioxidant-rich foods include black raspberries, artichokes and red cabbage. Take that, free radicals.