One way to stay healthy all year round is to make sure you're consuming enough antioxidant-rich foods.
According to MedlinePlus:
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
In addition, antioxidants aid in the prevention of skin damage and other visible signs of aging. Fruits and vegetables are our main sources for antioxidants from whole foods. However, in the winter time, it can be difficult to eat enough antioxidant-rich produce due to seasonal availability.
Here are five winter-friendly food sources to help you get enough antioxidants and stay healthy until the spring fruit and vegetable harvests.
Let's hope that your Valentine bought you dark chocolate this year. If so, you're already reaping the benefits of the high antioxidant activity found in dark chocolate. Using cocoa powder in a hot drink or smoothie is a healthy way to work more chocolate into your diet. Remember to stick with dark chocolate, as it contains more antioxidants than milk.
Hot tea and coffee are excellent sources of antioxidants that will also help keep you warm. When choosing among custom roasted coffee varieties, look for dark roasted options. A 2011 studyconducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia foundthat dark roasted coffee beans yield the highest antioxidant activity. As for tea, choose green and black varieties for maximum benefit.
Did you know that cinnamon, cloves, oregano, turmeric, and parsley (dried) are high sources of antioxidants? Cinnamon and cloves even beat pomegranate juice, and oregano and turmeric are above blueberries! Adding extra spice to your recipes is a very easy way to boost your antioxidant intake in winter.
Yet another readily available wintertime source of antioxidants is red wine.Studies report that the antioxidants in red wine help protect the lining ofblood vessels in your heart. A glass of red wine with dinner or before bed time can be a great addition to your diet. Just be sure to drink in moderation,which is about five ounces of wine per day for women.
Although few fresh fruits are available in the wintertime, you can still get the antioxidant benefits preserved in gourmet dried fruit.Any fruit that is high in antioxidants in its fresh form will have the samebenefit in the dried state. Check the nutrition labels to watch out for toomuch added sugar. The only ingredient should be the fruit!
Did you realize there were so many other ways to get antioxidants from foods other than fruits and vegetables? What's even better is that when you rely on eating whole foods as your antioxidant source, you're also getting tons of other beneficial vitamins and minerals.
How do you incorporate these foods into your winter meals and snacks?
Jessica Lymberopoulos is the editor of the Fooducopia Blog, featuring recipes,kitchen tips, and stories about the best artisan foods. She got her start in food writing during sixth grade when she and a friend published a classroom newspaper including a column