Antioxidants – One of the Secrets to a Youthful Appearance, Anti-Aging, Disease Prevention, and a Leaner, Stronger, Healthier Body!

December 16, 2010

by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

I’m sure by now you’ve heard all about the amazing health benefits of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. Not only do these free-radical fighting antioxidants help you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, but they can also help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and loads of other degenerative diseases.

And although we all want to be healthy and feel youthful… most of us also want to look good!

The function that antioxidants play in aiding your recovery from exercise is the inhibition of free radicals produced during exercise. Any time you workout, free radicals are produced in the body that can create inflammation. Having an adequate supply of antioxidants about an hour or so before your workout can greatly reduce the damage caused by free radicals, hence, improving your muscular recovery from exercise.

Some of the most potent sources of whole food antioxidants are berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries), cherries, acai fruit, various teas (green tea, white tea, black tea, yerba mate, oolong tea, chammomile tea, red tea – a.k.a. rooibos tea), nuts, seeds, red and black beans, purple potatoes, grapes, red wine, nuts and seeds, coffee, dark chocolate or cocoa, and tons of other fruits and vegetables.

Many spices are also extremely potent sources of antioxidants — such as cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, basil, black pepper, and most other herbs and spices.

My favorite pre-workout antioxidant-loaded snack is a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter, a small amount of blackberry jam, and topped with a pile of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. I wash it down with a glass of iced green tea or rooibos tea sweetened with just a small bit (about a teaspoon) of raw honey. This is literally a quintuple-whammy of potent anti-oxidants!

The almond butter, blackberries, blueberries, raw honey, and the green or rooibos tea are all loaded with different varieties of muscle protecting, youth promoting antioxidants. I throw down this snack about an hour before my training. Give it a try for yourself, or be creative and come up with your own antioxidant-rich pre-workout snack based on your tastes.

Remember, your body is continually bombarded every day by free radicals (creating oxidative stress) from exercise, air pollution, smoke, sun exposure, junk food, exposure to chemicals, etc. To reap the full benefits of antioxidants, try to make sure that every meal and snack you eat has at least one or two sources of antioxidant rich foods. This will give you a continuous supply of antioxidants throughout every day to prevent the damage and aging that result from the free radicals you are constantly exposed to.

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