YMCA Summer 2021-2022 Healthy Living Magazine - Page 15

I bet you ’ re now wondering about antioxidants and what makes them so good for us ?
Antioxidants are a large family of chemical compounds found naturally in our diet , that can protect the cells in our body from the damage caused by free radicals . Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur in the body as a result of aging and environmental factors and can increase your risk of developing certain diseases including cancers , cardiovascular disease , and degenerative brain diseases like dementia . Choosing a diet rich in antioxidants can be a powerful preventative .
Polyphenols aren ’ t just unique to herbs , but are found in most plant foods , including chocolate , coffee , extra virgin olive oil , tea and even red wine .
Look for vibrant colours
The type of polyphenol a plant produces will determine the colour , as well as influencing flavour and aroma . For example , anthocyanins are the polyphenol pigment that give blue , orange , purple or red colours to flowers , fruits and vegetables . Another interesting tip : because polyphenols are involved in protecting the plant from environmental stressors such as ultraviolet radiation , pathogens and predators – they are more concentrated on the outer layer of the plant , such as the skin of fruits and vegetables .
Hopefully by now , you ’ re already thinking about all of the interesting and colourful ways you can include more polyphenols in your diet . If you ’ re not sure where to start , adding extra flavour with summer herbs ( and spices ) is a simple but powerful strategy .
These days , you can buy small pots of living herbs like basil , coriander , mint and parsley at your local supermarket and green grocer . They ’ re also very easy to grow in a veggie garden or in pots on your window sill – as long as you remember to water regularly .
If you ’ re not much of a green thumb , do not fret ! As rewarding as growing your own herbs can be , dried herbs are just as beneficial to use . The top 15 foods for polyphenol content include dried varieties of peppermint , oregano , sage , rosemary , spearmint , and thyme ! By thinking about herbs as more than just the garnish , we can find ways to include them in our diet in amounts that provide us with those polyphenol perks .
Herbaceous ideas to boost your polyphenol intake
Oregano and parsley salsa verde
This flavoursome green sauce is one of my favourite ways to make a simple meal exciting . I ’ ll often add generous amounts to fish or chicken and veggies . To prepare , add the following ingredients to a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped .
} 1 large handful of fresh oregano leaves } 2 handfuls of parsley } 1 garlic clove } 1 tbsp capers } Juice and zest of ½ lemon } 1tbsp Dijon mustard } ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Basil pesto
Whether it ’ s with pasta , mixed through a salad , served with a cheese platter , or smeared on sourdough – fresh basil pesto has to be one of life ’ s greatest joys ! Add the following ingredients to your food processor , then blitz to combine .
} 2 cups fresh basil leaves } 1 garlic clove } ¼ cup toasted pine nuts / ⅓ cup almonds } 1 cup grated parmesan } ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Peppermint tea
With fresh or dried leaves , this simple brew is soothing and refreshing . Enjoy often !