When you choose a breakfast food or plan a diet, you probably consider the proportion of fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and other factors, but you probably never consider the antioxidant level or the reasons why you should consume foods high in antioxidants.
As a matter of fact, you require a high amount of antioxidants on a daily basis because your body’s cells are constantly threatened.
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day since it boosts energy and provides a quick supply of nutrients.
Eating antioxidant-rich foods for breakfast is like a double benefit for you, and the healthiest morning cereal you can get is that which is high in antioxidants, such as oat, rice, millet, Cocoa, maize, etc.
The latest data from the National Diet & Nutrition Survey (NDNS, 2014-2019) shows that breakfast cereal contributes approximately 6% to the total energy intake of 1.5-10-year-olds, and 5% of 11-18-year-olds (NDNS, 2016–2020).
Breakfast cereals play a significant role in people’s diets. Data results show, that they are the leading source of iron, a major source of B vitamins (about 20%) and provide 10% of young fibre intake (NDNS, 2000).
Breakfast cereals are also a great source of calcium when consumed with milk and yoghurt.
I will show you how to make a high-antioxidant breakfast cereal below, but first, let me explain what an antioxidant is and why you need it every day.
What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants are chemicals that help to avoid or mitigate the effects of free radicals.
They help your body maintain a healthy equilibrium of free radicals.
This prevents them from harming other cells. Antioxidants can help protect and perhaps reverse some of the damage caused by these free radicals and also improve your immune system.
Vitamins that are antioxidants are vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, with vitamin E, being regarded as the most powerful antioxidant, while phytochemical antioxidants include carotenoids, bioflavonoids, polyphenols, etc.
Antioxidants can be found in a variety of meals, but in varying amounts, with plant-based antioxidants being more abundant than animal-based antioxidants.
Antioxidants are also known as “free radical scavengers.”
Free radicals are produced in two ways. One is through the chemicals that your body produces as a result of converting food into energy and the other is through the environment, such as air pollution, industrial waste, cigarette smoke, X-rays and some other factors.
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How to make a breakfast cereal with high-antioxidant
As our two primary ingredients for this breakfast cereal, I will be using oat flour and cocoa powder, both of which are high in antioxidants. These two ingredients have lots of health benefits which I will discuss right after this recipe.
- 1 and 1/2 cup of oat flour
- 2 tablespoons of natural cocoa powder (I prefer to use the natural cocoa powder because the Dutch-processed one appears too dark and darkens after baking, but if you prefer the Dutch-processed one, go ahead and use it.
- 1/2 cup of lactose-free milk
- 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/3 cup of sugar.
Preparation time: 3 minutes
Baking time: 18 minutes.
- Mix the oat flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the baking powder and baking soda.
- Add the olive oil and mix until the whole ingredients have formed a little bit of a wet texture.
- Add the milk and mix with a whisk, until the batter is uniform and thick.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Line up the baking tray with parchment paper.
- Cut the tip of a piping bag and fill it with batter.
- Pipe small circular shapes onto the tray (you can place a 3mm diameter piping nozzle into the piping bag before filling it, so you can get the perfect circular shapes. I don’t use it because it gets messy, but if you are good with it, go ahead.)
- Place it in the oven and set the temperature to 160 °C for 18 minutes, or you can just bake until it’s hard and crunchy.
- Bring it out of the oven and let it cool.
- Place in a plastic container or a glass jar and seal tight.
- Store it in a cool, dry place.
- Grab a bowl and enjoy it with milk and some fruit.
This measurement will last you for 1 week or longer; mine lasts for 4 days because I take it during breakfast and I also snack on it at night.
- If you do not have oat flour at home, you can simply dry mill whole grain oats and you will have your own oat flour. Oat flour has no additives; it is simply oats, ground into fine particles.
- You can replace the lactose-free milk with any milk of your choice. The same applies to olive oil. The result would still be the same.
- In a case where you do not have parchment paper, you can make use of aluminium foil, but have in mind that your cereal would turn out to have a semicircle shape.
- Do not bake at a very high temperature.
Benefits of oat flour
- Whole oats are the only food source of avenanthramides, a unique group of antioxidants believed to protect against heart diseases.
- Oats are known to lower cholesterol levels and increase bile acid production.
- They are also believed to reduce blood sugar.
- Oats are good sources of protein and healthy fats than many other whole grains, but lesser in carbohydrates.
- Helps to curb appetite.
Benefits of cocoa powder
- Reduces blood pressure
- It reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack
- improves symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Other foods rich in antioxidants
If you are the type, who takes your health seriously and eats well, you are probably eating foods high in antioxidants without even realizing it. This is just to inform you about what you have been eating and what you will most likely need to eat. Below are classes of foods rich in antioxidants:
- All grains are rich in antioxidants with varying levels. Grains with the most antioxidants include rice, corn, millet, etc. (Brown rice contains more antioxidants than white and processed ones).
- Fruits and vegetables: these are very high in all forms of antioxidants and should be included in all diets. Examples of fruits and vegetables are strawberries, broccoli, red cabbage, carrot, beet, bell peppers, blueberries, and asparagus. A study carried out by the National Institute of Health, shows that blueberries contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of all fruits and vegetables.
- Herbs and spices: they are also known to be rich in antioxidants such as cloves, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary etc.
- Nuts: they are generally rich in antioxidants, especially almond and walnut.
- Red wine and teas contain large amounts of antioxidants, but because of the alcohol and caffeine content, I would advise you to take them moderately.
- Meat and meat products: the levels of antioxidants contained in these products are quite low, so it is advisable to back them up with plant products, rich in antioxidants.
- Supplements: there is nothing quite like eating too many antioxidants in food, but in the form of supplements, there is a risk of overdosing and negative effects, so I would recommend consulting with your doctor before taking any antioxidant supplements, or any supplement for that matter.
A lack of antioxidants causes oxidative stress, which leads to diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, low immune systems and many others. If you are concerned that your system is deficient in antioxidants, you should have your antioxidant level checked.
How to test your antioxidant levels
In case you had no idea, yes, you can easily test your antioxidant levels through these ways:
- Biophotonic scanner: This test determines the amounts of carotenoids in living tissue, giving a quick estimate of a person’s total antioxidant status.
- Antioxidant test kit: This is something that can be done at home with relative ease. To assess your body’s antioxidant capacity, a little drop of saliva is required.
It is strongly advised to have an antioxidant-rich diet at all times of the day, not only during breakfast. This would aid in the scavenging of free radicals and the reduction of disease risk. There are so many antioxidant-rich food recipes that can be quickly prepared at home with no effort; sign up for our newsletter to learn more.