We've all heard that eating more antioxidants is one of the keys to fending off the aging process and fighting disease. But did you know that how you prepare your food could dramatically impact the amount of antioxidants your body absorbs? Here are four stealth ways to sneak in even more.

Eat Roasted, Not Raw Peanuts
A study from the US Department of Agriculture measured the antioxidant levels in peanuts roasted at 362 degrees from zero to 77 minutes. The longer, darker roasting was consistently associated with higher antioxidant levels and better retention of vitamin E. The levels increased by well over 20 percent. Other studies have shown a similar effect for coffee beans.

Chop Carrots After Cooking
Research at the University of Newcastle in the UK found that chopping after cooking boosts carrots' anti-cancer properties by 25 percent. That’s because chopping increases the surface area, so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are being cooked. By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards, you lock in the nutrients. The study also found this method preserved more of the natural flavor. They asked 100 people to wear a blindfold and compare the taste of the carrots — more than 80 percent said the carrots that were cut after cooking tasted better.

Let Garlic Sit After Crushing
Several studies have shown that allowing garlic to sit at room temperature for a full 10 minutes after crushing helps it retain 70 percent of its anti-cancer power compared to cooking it immediately. That’s because crushing the garlic releases an enzyme that’s been trapped in the cells of the plant. The enzyme boosts levels of health-promoting compounds, which peak about 10 minutes after crushing. If the garlic is cooked before this, the enzymes are destroyed.

Keep Dunking Your Tea Bag
Continuously dunking your tea bag releases more antioxidants than simply dropping it in and leaving it there. That makes sense, but here’s another tip: add lemon to your tea. One recent Purdue study found that the addition of lemon to tea boosts antioxidants — not just because lemon adds antioxidants — but also because it helps tea antioxidants remain more stable in the acidic environment of the digestive tract, so more can be absorbed.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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