Antioxidants have been a buzz word for a long time now. Long enough that people even know they're a good thing, thank you Dr. Oz. But if you haven't sifted through the miles of clinical research on antioxidants' effects on free radicals, let me include a little background to bring you up to speed.
Let me bring you back to high school chemistry...it's 9 am, you're sitting in the middle of your second period class and Steve has put gum in your hair for the seventh time this school year and you're seriously considering pouring acid over his Member's Only jacket..... just kidding, don't go back that far!
Free Radicals are molecules that are running around searching for the electrons that they're missing. They fill these missing spots by stealing electrons from other molecules in your body. This is essentially the process of your body rusting.
Antioxidants are molecules that are electron-rich and can afford to give away one or two and still stay stable. They are the billionaire philanthropists of the molecule world.
How does this process (called oxidation) effect your skin? Oxidation damages skin cells, and this damage is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes cells to age prematurely and causes inflammation.
Antioxidants are the catalyst that stop the process.
Antioxidants are found in a lot of fruits, herbs, and vegetables, but in varying quantities. It's important to eat your antioxidants, because oxidation happens all over your body, not just in your skin. However your skin is particularly susceptible to the process because of all our not-so-great air quality issues. So in addition to eating your rust-fighting antioxidants, I also recommend you use a serum that has strong antioxidants in them.
I'm going to start off with a list of some of the plant family groups that have antioxidants in them.
Beta Carotene (orange fruits & veggies)
Lycopene (tomato & watermelon)
Lutein (green veggies)
Vitamin C (all fruits & most veggies)
Catechins (green tea)
Vitamin E (nuts, seeds, & avocados)
Anthocyanin (purple & blue fruits & veggies)
Indoles (cabbage & broccoli)
As you can see, lots and lots of plants have great antioxidants in them, so how do you choose what's best?
So there's not really a what's best. Each of these plants have other benefits as well, besides being antioxidant rich. There are however a list of what's more potent. That list is located here, if you'd like to research it. I've gone through it to pull out 5 potent foods, that we can easily get a hold of and commonly use in our meals.
That last part is the kicker, because while dragon's blood may be one of the most potent plants for antioxidants, I have yet to find it in my local Kroger's and even if I did, I don't really know what to use it in.
So here's my five favorite antioxidants in no particular order:
These guys are usually glided over for their red counterparts, but black raspberries actually have a much higher antioxidant potency. Put a handful of them in your morning oatmeal or bring a cup of them to work to snack on.
These are not only powerful, but they're so versatile, which is why they make my list. You can snack on them all by themselves or you can use them in salads or added crunch to yogurt and ice cream.
These are my favorite salad greens. Not only are they an antioxidant extraordinaire, they actually help reverse UV damage. You can literally pick them out of your own yard or you can grab them from a grocery store.
These didn't used to be easy to find, but the United States is starting to really expand on their mushroom repertoire at the local grocer. These can be used raw in salads or added to any kind of cooking. Use them in place of your typical button mushroom.
I really love marinated artichokes from the antipasto bar. I eat them like a snack. Just grab a fork and savor a couple of them. Put them back into the fridge until I'm ready again.
So there's my list for easy to find, easy to use powerful antioxidant-carrying plant goodness. But I'm going to give you a little something extra. A quick list of herbs and spices that carry a huge antioxidant kick. I hope it inspires you to add a little extra something to your next meal:
We don't use spices and herbs in huge quantities, but they're actually far more potent pound for pound when compared to fruits and vegetables. So next time you're cooking, try a new spice!
In addition to eating your antioxidants, don't forget to wear them! As a serum that is. I mean you can sling some ginger or cinnamon around your neck as a perfume, it would smell nice and I won't judge.
My favorite antioxidant serum is the Sandalwood & Reishi Serum that you can find here. It contains several antioxidants, as well as Vitamin C (which is needed to synthesize collagen & elastin) and a mild retinol.
I hope this has inspired you to invite more antioxidant power into your life to put a stop to the rusting of your body!