Anti-what?  Antioxidants have made health headlines for decades but do you really know what these nutrition superstars can do for you?  Truth: you need them to live! Here’s why, and surprising ways to get them.

Get Schooled: Antioxidants 101

Think of antioxidants as super heroes.  They fight off oxidation that occurs on the cellular level in your body.  You have trillions of cells in your body that are susceptible to damage, which, in the big picture, can lead to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.  The body itself fights off threats, but antioxidants power up the fight.

Clue In with Color

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-Carotene, polyphenols, and flavonoids, plus minerals selenium and magnese get the most attention for being antioxidants, but there are many substances that can act as antioxidants.  The trick is to get antioxidants from actual food, not supplements.  Brightly colored food bears the most antioxidant qualities, so fill your grocery cart and plate with colors; especially purple, blue, red, orange and yellow.  Translation:  start by eating lots of fruits and veggies in all those colors.

Surprise Your Palatte 

While blueberries have grabbed the antioxidant limelight over the years, other foods can pack a healthy punch too.  Red beans have more antioxidants than blueberries according to researchers, who have complied this list of 20 foods with the most antioxidants.  Other stars on the list: artichokes, pecans, potatoes, and cranberries! If you’re getting the recommended getting a 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and choosing from those high antioxidant foods, you’re building a great defense against disease..

Put This Antioxidant Star On Your Radar

Matcha tea anyone?  This Japanese beverage gaining popularity each day, is a powdered form of green tea, which goes directly into hot water. It’s loaded with antioxidants and specifically contains EGCG (epigallo-catechin gallate), an element that is thought to help cancer prevention, plus support heart health, weight loss and protect skin from damage.  Researchers found that matcha has 137 times more antioxidant levels than traditional green teas.

Finally, it seems organic is the name of the game.  A recent study found that organic foods actually contain higher levels of antioxidants versus non-organic foods.  So enjoy a variety of foods that are already good for you in so many ways, go organic, and let the power of antioxidants boost you toward better health!