When we think of nutrients; vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates or fats come to mind, but the most important and essential nutrient is oxygen.
Antioxidants in food
Through food we can provide our body with the antioxidants needed to function properly and feel in top shape. Here are the six most important antioxidants and the ways you can get them:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, in combination with vitamins B5 and B6, is a fundamental part of the synthesis of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to cells and tissues.
We can include vitamin C in our diet by eating oranges, kiwis, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, acerola, pomegranate…
The recommended amount is 120 mg/day. Ways to get it:
- 125 g of kale
- 95 g of broccoli
- 2 oranges
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E prevents the oxidation of fat cells, the structures that make up cell membranes or cholesterol. It is found mostly in nuts and seeds (and in their oils obtained by cold pressing).
The recommended amount is 20 mg/day. Ways to get it:
- 50 g of raw and peeled sunflower seeds
- 20 ml of flax oil
- 70 g of raw almonds without shell
The omega-3 (DHA and EPA) increase the levels of endogenous antioxidants, those manufactured by the body itself. Although they are not usually classified among antioxidants, free radical levels decrease.
They can be incorporated into the vegetarian diet through seaweed oils, hemp seeds, chia, flax and sacha inchi.
The recommended amount is 1.5 g/day. Ways to get it:
- 15 g of chia seeds
- 10 ml sacha inchi oil
- 35 g of hemp seeds
Phytosterols decrease the absorption of LDL cholesterol and, associated with vitamin E, protect it against oxidation.
Foods rich in them are nuts, buckwheat, custard apple, rice, dates, grapes, safflower oil, sesame seeds, olives, figs, raspberries, carrots, asparagus, Swiss chard, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onions, brown rice…
The recommended amount is 500 mg/day. Ways to get it:
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 chirimoya
- 125 g of buckwheat
Carotenoids protect the eyes and skin, and boost the immune system and fertility. They are pigments that we find in plants, algae and bacteria. There are more than 500 types; the best known are beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, lutein, lycopene and astaxanthin.
A simple way to obtain them is to include orange, yellow, red, dark green and purple fruits and vegetables, such as squash, tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, peppers, carrots, red cabbage, green leafy vegetables, watermelon, purple corn, beet , pomegranate, mango, papaya, persimmon…
The recommended amount is 150 mg/day. Ways to get it:
- 50 g of polenta
- 85 g of white beans
- 2 medium carrots
Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in plants that have more than one phenol group per molecule. Within our body these compounds ferment, aided by the bacteria of the digestive system creating metabolites of great antioxidant power.
They are very active and protect especially the circulatory system. They are anticancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective. They also have a very interesting effect on the blood sugar level.
It is very important to choose foods rich in polyphenols such as berries, green tea, cocoa, cinnamon, nuts, cranberry, apricot, flax, chestnut, capers, aromatics and spices.
The recommended amount is 200 mg/day. Ways to get it:
- 40 g of blueberries
- 90 g of lentils
- 1/2 beet