Antioxidants are frequently mentioned in everyday conversations. You also find antioxidant supplements on store shelves, and their health benefits are beloved by both marketers and the media. However, not many people actually know what they are and how they work. The concept of antioxidants is fairly complex so I would like to explain it in simple terms for better understanding.
So What Is Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight damage by free radicals, the unstable molecules that can harm cellular structures. Antioxidants do this by giving electrons to the free radicals and neutralizing them.
Antioxidants And Free Radicals Are Both Important
Free radicals are constantly being formed during metabolism. Without antioxidants, they would destroy our bodies fast. However, it is important to keep in mind that free radicals also serve important functions that are essential for survival too. E.g. your immune cells use free radicals to kill bacteria that try to infect us.
As with so many things in the body, we need a certain balance… we need the right amount of free radicals, and the right amount of antioxidants to keep them in check. When this balance gets disrupted, things start to go wrong.
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, this leads to oxidative stress (which is a distributive unbalance between Free radicals and Antioxidants) during oxidative stress, important molecules in the body can become severely damaged. sometimes even leading to the cell itself dying.
A lot of stress factors and lifestyle habits are well known to promote excessive free radical formation and oxidative stress:
High blood Sugar Levels
Consuming Large Amounts Of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Radiation Including Sunbathing A Lot
Infections By Bacteria, Fungi or Viruses
Too Much Oxygen In The Body
Excessive Intake of Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Zinc
Too Much Oxygen In The Body
Intense And Prolonged Exercise, Which Causes Tissue Damage
Excessive Intake of Antioxidants, Such As Vitamins C And E
Prolonged oxidative stress leads to increased risk of negative health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. It also contributes to the ageing process.
Antioxidants Are Found In All Sorts Of Food
It is an essential source of antioxidants. They are naturally found in foods both plant and animal based origin, especially in vegetables, fruits and beverages like coffee and tea.
Types of Dietary Antioxidants
There are many different varieties of antioxidants found in foods. They can be broadly categorized into two groups, Water- soluble and fat- soluble antioxidants.
Water- Soluble antioxidants perform their actions in the fluid inside and outside the cells, whereas fat- soluble antioxidants act mainly in the cell membranes. Here is a list of a few important dietary antioxidants:
Vitamin C- One of the most important water- soluble antioxidants and an essential dietary nutrient.
Vitamin E- The main fat- soluble antioxidant that plays a critical role in protecting the cell membranes against oxidative damage.
Flavonoids- A large group of antioxidants found in plant foods.
Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?
Real foods have hundreds if not thousands of different nutrients that work together. Taking just one or two isolated nutrients won’t have the same beneficial effects.
The best/ healthiest way to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants, is a diet which is rich in various vegetables and fruit, along with other healthy dietary habits.
However, low- dose supplementation, such as in multivitamin tablets, may be the answer if you are deficient in certain nutrients.
Most fruit consists primarily of carbs, while the avocado is high in healthy fats, which for me makes it rather unique. There are many reason why you should eat Avocado, so here are some beneficial ones I would like to share with you all.
Avocado Is Very Nutritious- This fruit comes from an Avocado tree, it is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to all sorts of dishes due to fact it has really good flavour and rich texture. It is the main ingredient of guacamole.
These days Avocado has become a very popular food among healthy eaters. Its is often hailed as a superfood… which I would agree with as it has strong health benefits.
Avocados are green as you may know but you can get black ones too, typically the blacker it is the softer it is to eat also.
They Contain More Potassium Than Banana- Potassium is a nutrient that most people are really not getting enough of. This nutrient helps maintain the body’s cells and serves various important functions.
Avocados are actually very high in potassium with a 100 gram (3.5 ounces) serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which is a typical high potassium food.
High potassium intake also reduces high blood pressure, strokes, kidney failure and high risk of a heart attack
Avocados Are Loaded With Fibre- Fibre is another nutrient found in relatively large amounts in Avocado. Fibre is indigestible plant matter that can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases. A distinction is often made between soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre is known to be able to feed the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine, which are very important for the optimal function of our bodies.
Avocados Are Good For The Eyes- Not only do Avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves. This includes nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are incredibly important for eye health. I also happened to stumble across various studies just out of interest last week, and found that it dramatically reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in the elderly therefore, this also suggest that Avocados should have benefits for eye health over the longer term.
Avocados Help You Lose Weight- They really are weight loss friendly foods, especially in the long term. Avocados in your diet can help you naturally eat fewer calories and have an easier time sticking to a healthier diet. Avocados are also high in fibre, and very low in carbs, two attributes that should also help promote weight loss, at least in the context of a healthy real food based diet.
Avocados taste really nice- Try it for your self…ENOUGH SAID!
So only a month left until winter arrives, but its still not to late to eat some Fall foods that are also optimal for a healthy diet. Here are Five Top Fall Foods that will benefit you if you get eating them right away.
Apples- You know what they say an Apple a day keeps the doctor away! This delicious fruit contains pectin (type of fibre) shown to help lower LDL (aka bad cholesterol) In addition, as you may know apples count as part of your five a day.
Sweet Potatoes- This tasty tuber Is packed with vitamin A and potassium. A medium sweet potato contains 155% the recommend daily value of vitamin A, an antioxidant responsible for healthy eyes and hair. Potassium is another key mineral found in sweet potatoes and helps your muscles work efficiently.
Pears- This fall fruit is bursting with health benefits. Pears provide a healthy dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C. At about 5 grams per medium fruit, pears are also a valuable source of fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut.
Brussels Sprouts- Packed with vitamin K and folate, Brussels sprouts are a must for your fall menu. This veggi is loaded with Vitamin K, which provides important blood clotting and bone strengthening functions. Folate is necessary for neural tube development (which is part of the brain and spinal cord), making Brussels sprouts a great choice for expectant mothers.
Pumpkin Seeds- Pumpkins are of course a classic hit at Halloween, but the seeds are even better. A one- ounce serving ( about 85 seeds) are relatively low in carbs with only 15 grams. They also carry a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, which is necessary for a healthy immune system.
Many normal weight people have the metabolic problems associated with obesity. This is because the fat under the skin is actually not that big of a problem at least not from a health standpoint; it is however a problem for cosmetic reasons.
It’s the fat in the abdominal cavity, the belly fat that is the bigger issue. If you have a lot of excess fat around your waistline, even if your not very big, then you should take the time and go through the steps to get rid of it. Belly fat is normally estimated by measuring around the waist with a tape measure.
Anything above 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women is known as abdominal obesity.
Here are 3 proven ways to lose belly fat.
Eating Protein Long-Term To Reduce Belly Fat- Protein is the most important when it comes to losing weight. It has been shown to reduce cravings by up to 60%, boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.
I know you are probably reading this because you want to reach your weight loss goal, then I would say adding protein to your diet is perhaps the single most effective change you can make.
Not only will it help you lose… it can also help you avoid re-gaining in the first place!
I read a study in from Denmark and it showed that protein, especially animal protein, was linked to significant reduced risk of belly fat gain over a period of 5 years. This same study showed that refined carbs and vegetable oils were linked to increased amounts of belly fat, but fruits and vegetables linked to reduced amounts.
So basically, make a really big effort to increase your intake of Eggs, Fish, Seafood, Meats, Poultry and dairy products. These are the best protein sources in the diet.
Bonus Tip: Vegetarians’ example of what you can eat instead of meat: Nuts and Seeds, Ricotta Cheese, canned Yellow Corn, dried Apricot, Oats… All the foods mentioned are from different food sources and an example of what I consider some of the best food sources to get your protein without eating meat. Of course there is so much more than that available for you to choose from.
Eat Food Rich In Fibre- Eating a lot of this can really help you with your weight loss goals. Eating high fibre foods/ water rich foods like Vegetable soups, fruits, salads and vegetables instead of foods without fibre and water, you can eat the same weight of food but feel full on fewer calories.
Eating Fibre is great thing to do first thing in the mornings too, eat cereals such as Oats to get the full benefits first thing. Though I would like to mention that no one fibre is perfect, so I would suggest you eat a wide variety of fibres to gain better health benefits of fibre.
Its not just your waist that trims either with a fibre rich diet you also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and constipation.
Bonus Tip: When adding fibre, take it slow as eating too much fibre straight away can leave you bloated and give you gas. Your body needs time to adapt. Also whilst increasing your fibre intake you should be drinking more liquid too.
Aerobic Exercise- Exercise is important for many reasons. It is one of the best things you can do if you want to live a long and healthy life, and avoid diseases.
Working out is very effective when looking to lose belly fat. But keep in mind I am talking about whole body workouts not just the topic of this article which is the stomach (for work out terms, Abdominals).
Spot reduction (losing fat in one spot) is a myth and not possible, and doing endless amounts of crunches will not make you lose fat from the belly.
This is why Aerobic exercises like Walking, Running, Swimming etc. have been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat. Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation and blood sugar levels.
Bonus Tip: JUST DO IT!
I would like to share with you 7 health habits that make you, but also keep you slim! Making behaviour changes is the real key to permanent weight loss, but just getting started in the first place is the only step you have to worry about for now… so if you want to look nice for more than just a season you have come to the right place
Drink Water Daily- That simple drink up! All dieters and healthy people in general who replace sweetened drinks with water have been shown to lose more weight. Also staying hydrated helps keep you fuller for longer and not craving food. If water is too plain for you to drink, try adding some lemon or lime and if too sour use cucumber slices to give it some flavour.
Eat Your Breakfast- Start every day with a balanced breakfast that combines high fibre and protein to help you boost your metabolism the right way, stabilize your blood sugar, control your hunger pains and boost your energy levels.
Eat Nuts- (If allergic to nuts please skip) Tree nuts such as Almonds are full of healthy fats, protein and fibre, making them the perfect snack to keep you going until your next meal. You don’t need to go crazy with it, a handful is more than enough.
Snack Attack- Waiting too long before meals can slow your metabolism, and increase your hunger, which typical means overeating. Aim to eat 4 small meals and 2 snacks throughout the day to keep your metabolism up and those cravings at bay.
Get Some Sleep- Lack of sleep leads to an increase in obesity and to be honest without this you are wasting your time. When you are tired you tend to crave those high fat sugary foods, so getting the correct sleep (which is 8 hours) has added benefits such as anti-ageing and disease prevention.
Keep Track- Get yourself a diary and start writing down all the foods you eat. Having this food journal will help you stay accountable and keep you on track. And if you lost or gained weight you can look back at what you had that day, week or month and know exactly what is working and what is not.
Chill Out- Relax! Stress increases cholesterol levels, which in turn leads to fat. So stop stressing or your just adding unwanted pounds in your life you could do without.
Have you just eaten and still feeling hungry? It can be a strange concept especially if it was a full meal! You are not alone though if it is true for you, as it is a problem among many people. So now I will break down for you the 5 reasons why you’re still hungry after eating…
You’re Skipping Breakfast- (Face Palm) It is of the utmost importance to have breakfast every single morning! Failure to do so will just be the beginning of your metabolism slowing.. (Gulp) oh yes and without the energy fuel breakfast gives you’ll just overeat later. Which I am sure you know = GAINING EXTRA WEIGHT.
If you would like to know how to break out of this bad habit (click here)
Also having breakfast that does not have high fibre and proteins will always lead to hunger even after eating other meals. Remember how important the first meal of the day really is. Start it off right with a breakfast full of proteins and fibre like oatmeal or if you don’t like cereal have some eggs.
Your Still Drinking Soda And Fruit Juice- These types of drinks are no good for you and when drinking these regularly you may “Mistake” thirst for actual hunger. Most soda also has caffeine, which can raise your metabolism (the unhealthy way) and also make you feel hungry throughout the day.
Plus, if you’re skipping meals such as breakfast beforehand, your blood sugar will need to be brought back up or you will feel hungry again. Plain and simple DRINK WATER…LOTS OF IT! It keeps you fuller for longer and its better for you.
You Didn’t get enough sleep last night- A lack of sleep can lead to over eating. Don’t do it to yourself, get the hours in. 8 hours to be precise. But more importantly do it on a consistent basis and you will feel just fine and not like you could eat out the whole of Walmart.
You See, Smell & Want The Food- As human beings we tend to eat with our senses more than our stomachs. When we smell or see food even in a photo or on telly, our mouths start to water, which stimulates our appetite. For example, you might see one of those M&S adverts and want to chow so bad, or smell freshly baked bread straight out the oven and want to buy it even though you might have just eaten.
To be honest, even if the food is laid out on the table in a buffet for example, and it is in abundance and stacked in tiers, we still tend to GRAB, EAT and REPEAT. The solution= Out of sight out of mind. Get your mind on something else, leave the room, turn off the telly. Hold your nose if you smell bread Just do what you can and the craving to eat will likely subside.
You’re Eating Too Fast- Nice and simple ‘Chew slower fill fuller’. If you have family or friends, start a conversation. Look, smell and appreciate the food you are eating. Take the time out of what ever you are doing to say “this is my time to eat now” and stop worrying and stressing about time. Stress leads to weight gain you know.
If you would like to know how eating slower can benefit you, in more depth, then…
Weight loss friendly foods really help when looking to drop some pounds. So what should you be including in your diet to make this happen? Here are some excellent foods for weight loss
Whole Eggs- Are amongst the best foods you can eat if you need to lose weight. They’re high in protein, healthy fats, and can make you can feel full with a very low amount of calories.
Eggs are also incredibly nutrient dense and can help you get all the nutrients you need on a calorie restricted diet. Almost all the nutrients are found in yolks.
Salmon- Oily fish such as salmon is very healthy. It is also very satisfying, keeping you full for many hours with relatively few calories.
Salmon is packed with high quality protein, healthy fats and also contains all kinds of important nutrients. Fish and also seafood in general, supplies a significant amount of iodine.
This nutrient is necessary for proper function for the thyroid, which is important to keep the metabolism running optimally.
Salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation, which is known to play a major role in obesity and metabolic disease. Mackerel, Trout, Sardines, Herring and other types of oily fish are also great choices.
Leafy Greens- Leafy greens include Spinach, Kale, Swiss chard and others. They have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet. They are low in both calories and carbohydrates, but loaded with fibre. Eating leafy greens is a great way to increase the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories.
Leafy greens are also incredibly nutritious and very high in all sorts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This includes calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning.
Cruciferous Vegetables- Such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Like other vegetables, they are high in fibre and tend to be very filling. These vegetables contain decent amounts of protein.
They’re not as high in protein as animal foods or legumes, but they’re high compared to most vegetables.
A combination of protein, fibre and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals if you need to lose weight. They are also highly nutritious, and contain cancer-fighting substances.
Chicken Breast & Lean Beef- Meat in general has been blamed for all sorts of health problems, despite no real evidence to back it up.
Although processed meat is unhealthy, red meat does NOT raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes. The truth is meat is weight loss friendly food, because it’s high in protein.
Did you know eating protein is the most fulfilling nutrient by far and eating a high protein diet can make you burn up to 80 to 100 more calories per day.
If you’re on a low carb diet, then yes you can eat fatty meats, but if you’re on a moderate to high carbohydrate diet, then choosing lean meats may be more appropriate.
Tuna- Is another low-calorie, high protein food. It is lean fish so there isn’t much fat in it.
Tuna is popular among bodybuilders and fitness models that are on a cut, because it’s a great way to keep protein high, with total calories and fat low. If your trying to emphasize protein intake, then make sure to choose tuna canned in water, not oil.
Beans & Legumes- Some beans and legumes can be beneficial for weight loss. This includes Black beans, Kidney beans, Lentils and some others.
These foods tend to be high in protein and fibre, which are two nutrients that are filling and also tend to contain some resistant starch.
The main problem is that a lot of people have a problem with tolerating legumes. For this reason it is important to prepare them properly
Boiled potatoes- There are several things that make potatoes great food both for weight loss and for optimal health.
They contain a great range of different of nutrients, a little bit of almost everything we need. They are particularly high in potassium, a nutrient that most people do not get enough of and plays an important role in blood pressure control.
If you eat white, boiled potatoes, you will naturally feel full and eat less of other foods instead.
If you boil the potatoes, then allow them to cool for a while, then they will form large amounts of resistant starch, a fibre- like substance that has been shown to have all sorts of health benefits including (Drum Roll) ..WEIGHT LOSS.
Fruit- As you know is extremely healthy. I don’t really need to tell you that people who eat the most fruit/vegetables tend to be healthier than the people who don’t.
Fruit do have properties that make them weight loss friendly. Even though they contain natural sugar, they have a low energy density and take a while to chew.
Plus, the fibre helps prevent the sugar from being released too quickly into your bloodstream.
The only people who may want to avoid or minimize fruit are those who are on a very low- carb or ketogenic diet, or have some sort of intolerance to fructose.
Soups- Most foods with low energy density are those that contain lots of water, such as vegetables and fruits. But of course you can also add water to your food by making a soup.
If you eat the exact same food, but made in a soup instead of solid food, it makes you feel more full and eat significantly less…try it.
We all know that too much Sugar is never good for you. But did you know there are actually two different types of “Sugar”? Naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.
So what really is the difference between the two and is one healthier than the other?
The Difference- Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole unprocessed foods, for example fruit, vegetables and some grains. The most common
natural sugar is fructose, which is found in fruit and lactose, found in milk products.
Whereas “Added Sugar” is the sugar added into processed foods/drinks while they are being made, as well as sugar you may add yourself to your
food at home. The Food manufacturers may add both natural sugars (such as fructose) and processed sugars such as (Corn syrup) to processed food and drinks.
Why Is Added Sugar Put In Food & Drink- There are many reasons but here are few examples:
· To serve as a preservative for foods like Jam and jelly
· maintains freshness of baked goods
· helps with the break down ( Fermentation) of Bread and Alcohol.
Limiting Added Sugar- This is the sugar that you want to limit in your diet since these sugars provided unnecessary calories and more importantly no helpful nutrients.
In the long term you can end up with obesity, tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, (and struggling with sugar cravings) and heart disease.
Should I limit Natural Sugars?- I wouldn’t worry about limiting Natural Sugars unless you are diabetic. They occur in whole foods like fruit, plain dairy ( milk, cheese, and yoghurt)
and while these naturally occurring sugars are not bad for you, it goes without saying for any
food, you must monitor your portions.
So even though the protein in dairy, and fibre plus water in fruit helps your body absorb the sugar slowly and steadily, going over the top and eating 20 fruits a day would be too much natural sugar in your diet.
2 to 3 servings of fruit per day is more than enough for most healthy adults, and will of course, add to your 5 a day
I do not personally limit my Natural Sugar intake and much rather concentrate on eradicating my added sugar intake as much as I can.
How to read nutrition labels when looking out for sugar- Sadly food manufacturers are still very slow and do not require or feel the need to separate naturally occurring sugars from your added sugars on the label.
But you can see how much total sugar is in each serving. You can also check the ingredient list (Food and Drink).
I know when first reading the labels it can be very confusing but all I want you to remember are these two killer tips.
4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar
1 gram of sugar = 4 calories
Using those two tips will make the information found on the nutrition facts label much easier to understand what it really means. A food or drink that contains 40 grams of sugar per serving is the same as 10 teaspoons of sugar and 160 calories.