We’ve all heard the words “you are what you eat”… But what exactly does this mean? I’ve always taken it to imply that eating well will help you to feel better about yourself! But even if that is what this means, what exactly should we be eating? To help answer this question, I’ve decided to write a little bit about a food nutrient that may help us improve our health and general wellbeing  – antioxidants!

Just in case you’re not familiar with the word antioxidant (I must admit I only learned about it recently!), antioxidants which are present in foods are essentially minerals and vitamins which are strongly involved in preventing cell damage by protecting the cells in our bodies from free radicals (you can find a very reader friendly article explaining the terms antioxidants and free radicals here). Vitamins C and E are examples of these heroic antioxidants. I call them heroic, Dr. Richard Cutler (an expert in antioxidant research) calls them “directly proportional to how long we live” – either way the consensus seems to be that these little guys have an important part to play in our health. Indeed, research has suggested that a diet which contains plenty of antioxidant-rich foods may strengthen your immune system and fight the signs of ageing.

Ok, so to the important bit! In what foods can we find these antioxidants? I could just list all the foods rich in antioxidants, but you can find that easily on google, so instead I’ve put together a list of 5 antioxidant-rich foods that appeal to me most (and hopefully they will appeal to you too):

1. Berries

Not only are they delicious but they are full of antioxidants. You could even try heating up some raspberries and adding a little bit of vanilla ice-cream:  a really yummy treat and so easy to make. Try it on a rainy day when you’re looking out the window feeling depressed and let down by the weather. It’ll help – I promise!

2. Broccoli

Perhaps the healthiest way of preparing broccoli would be to steam it and eat it with your dinner. A favourite of mine, though, is Chicken Broccoli Bake – the first dinner I ever cooked for a group of people, you know when you’re running around the kitchen fearful of anything that could go wrong and for some reason everything does seem to go wrong! But it tasted lovely in the end and it’s been my special dish ever since.

3. Popcorn

Recent research has suggested that popcorn actually has more antioxidants than vegetables and fruits. Obviously the butter and salt in popcorn could diminish the health benefits, but everything in moderation as they say. I’m from Portugal, where we don’t add salt or butter to popcorn. We add sugar! I bet you’ve just thought “that’s horrible!” – if you did I don’t blame you, after all that’s the reaction I get from everyone I mention this to. But if you gave it a chance I bet you would like it. Again, only add a little bit to try and keep it healthy (-ish). A healthier alternative would be adding cinnamon to popcorn. I haven’t tried it myself, but I guess it would be worth a shot. If this still doesn’t appeal to you, you can also click here for some more suggestions of healthy popcorn recipes.

4. Dark Chocolate

Ok, so you might be thinking “is she just listing foods she likes and saying – why yes, they are full of antioxidants!”. But it is a fact that dark chocolate is an antioxidant-rich food. Remember you have to eat it in moderation, and it does have to be the dark type. Unfortunately white and milk chocolate do not provide the same benefits. When I was in primary school, I  remember always thinking dark chocolate wasn’t real chocolate: “if it’s not a Kinder chocolate or taste remotely like it it’s not real chocolate!”. But as I got older and exposed my taste buds to more foods, I found that dark chocolate is actually quite tasty, especially if you let it melt in your mouth.

5. Green Tea

It might not sound as appealing as the comforting Barry’s or Lyon’s Tea with a drop of milk we love so much but green tea is a potent source of antioxidants. At the end of the day, as cliché as it sounds, we should always think about the bigger picture and if you think about the health benefits of drinking green tea it should surely be worth a try (especially when you consider that green tea has been linked with prevention of cancer). Click here for a nice 11 point list of the health benefits of green tea.

Thank you for reading my blog, and if you have anything to add please do leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you, and it would be great to share tips and stories.

Until the next blog! 🙂