5 Foods High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are everywhere these days, and they’re being praised as the new fountain of youth, so it’s important to know what they are and what they do.
But if you’ve never heard of them before, it can be hard to know where to start! Luckily, I’m here to explain antioxidants in simple terms, along with five great sources of antioxidants that you can try today.
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that can help to protect your body from free radicals that cause oxidative stress and, eventually, lead to serious illness.
The problem with antioxidants in food, however, is that many of them are destroyed in the cooking process, meaning you have to eat raw foods to get an adequate intake of antioxidants in your diet.
For this reason, we’ve put together a list of five antioxidant-rich foods that should be part of every health-conscious person’s diet.
Antioxidants are an important part of any diet, especially if you’re concerned about your health and living longer. However, not all antioxidants are created equal, so you should know which foods high in antioxidants are best to include in your diet and why those foods can benefit your body in so many ways.
Related: 10 Herbs Rich in antioxidants
What are antioxidants?
Without getting too scientific, antioxidants are compounds that help defend your body against free radicals molecules that can harm cells and DNA by stealing electrons.
Getting more antioxidants is essential. While your body produces its own antioxidants, you can also get them from food, which is why a diet rich in antioxidants can improve your health.
Most fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, so try including at least one of these foods at every meal. Spinach, kale, and cabbage top a list of foods high in antioxidants, but choosing produce that’s brightly colored like oranges and red peppers will help ensure you get more of these powerful plant compounds.
Many contain both vitamins and minerals as well as phytochemicals, natural substances found in plants that have been shown to have positive effects on human health.
Some studies suggest that phytochemicals can reduce risk factors associated with cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. The best way to get these beneficial nutrients is through whole foods, not supplements or processed products.
Try adding some of these foods to your diet today.
While you have antioxidants at work inside your body, you can also eat foods that contain them to boost your antioxidant intake. Here are five easy ways to do just that:
These fruits and vegetables not only taste great but they’re all antioxidant superstars. And while they’re all pretty great on their own, if you really want to reap antioxidant benefits it’s best to combine several of these superfoods into one meal or snack.
(1) Dark chocolate – This popular treat contains two types of antioxidants: flavonoids and polyphenols. Flavonoids can help reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, while polyphenols may help improve blood flow and lower cholesterol.
(2) Red wine – This is a great choice for antioxidants, but you need to be careful because excessive drinking can actually do more harm than good. Just one glass of red wine per day has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
The antioxidants in red wine are called resveratrol, which also has anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit people with arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
(3) Blueberries – Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give them their blue color. In addition to fighting free radicals, these antioxidants may also play a role in preventing age-related macular degeneration.
Berries are among the most potent sources of antioxidants. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries all make great additions to oatmeal, smoothies, or salads.
They’re delicious raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. Spices – Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg all offer potent antioxidant properties when added to recipes during cooking. Other spices like turmeric, ginger, and cardamom are also healthy choices
(4) Pomegranates – These fruits are packed with ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant found mostly in rinds and seeds. One study found that pomegranate juice helped protect against DNA damage caused by harmful compounds known as reactive oxygen species.
This juicy fruit has many health benefits, including strong antioxidant properties.
(5) Spinach – Popeye was onto something when he ate his spinach—it really does make you strong! Like other leafy greens, spinach is high in iron and magnesium, both of which are essential for muscle growth and energy production.
It’s also rich in vitamin K, which helps maintain bone health. According to research from Purdue University, spinach is one of many vegetables that contain carotenoids, which help fight off oxidative stress and aging. Another plus? Since it’s available year-round, it makes a healthy addition to any meal at any time of year.
(6) Artichokes – You probably know artichokes have fiber, folate, and potassium; what you might not know is they’re also loaded with antioxidants. In fact, an analysis of various vegetables showed artichokes had among the highest antioxidant content of all foods analyzed. They’re particularly high in caffeoylquinic acids (CQAs), phenolic acids, flavones, stilbenes, phytosterols, and chlorogenic acid.
How does your body get antioxidants?
Our bodies don’t create antioxidants—they come from what we eat. In terms of diet, it’s important to remember that some foods are better than others when it comes to giving our bodies antioxidant benefits.
For example, research has shown that eating foods high in antioxidants can reduce free radicals, slow aging, and improve cardiovascular health.
The following are five foods with antioxidant properties your body will thank you for eating The more colorful, the better: When shopping for antioxidant-rich foods, look for items that contain a lot of colors. This is because colorful fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of antioxidants (and other nutrients) called phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that give them their color and flavor; they also have powerful antioxidant properties. Examples include beta carotene, lycopene, and anthocyanins. Eat up! Research shows that people who consume antioxidant-rich diets may be at lower risk for certain diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
If you want to get all of these benefits, make sure to choose a variety of antioxidant-rich foods every day. Also, try adding spices like cinnamon or turmeric to your meals—these spices are rich in antioxidants too.
Last but not least, if you do nothing else, add antioxidant-rich foods to your morning routine by starting off each day with a glass of fresh orange juice. By consuming antioxidant-rich foods on a regular basis, you can help ensure your body gets an adequate amount of antioxidants every single day.
It’s never too late to start improving your overall health. So, next time you go grocery shopping, keep these antioxidant-rich foods in mind. You might just find yourself feeling healthier and happier as a result.
Exercise – any kind of exercise helps maintain muscle mass which keeps metabolism higher. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful because it burns fat and maintains muscle mass even during weight loss phases.
Strength training can also help you keep lean muscle mass, but not as much as aerobic exercise. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity on most days, along with 2-3 strength training sessions per week.
If you’re just starting out, try to do 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular activity a few times a week and work your way up from there.
We are all born with an innate capacity to protect ourselves from free radicals. But as we age, it is possible for that capacity to be compromised.
In turn, our levels of antioxidants (the body’s way of defending itself against these rogue molecules) drop, which leaves us susceptible to oxidative stress and other harmful effects on our health.
Find out if you’re at risk for a deficiency by taking our quiz! What foods are high in antioxidants? : It can be difficult to know just how many antioxidants your diet contains.
Some foods, like dark chocolate or berries, have a reputation for being antioxidant-rich but what about everyday foods like meat or vegetables? To help clear up some confusion, here are five foods that rank highest in antioxidants: 1. Blueberries 2. Spinach 3. Pomegranates 4. Dark Chocolate 5. Red Wine Now you know where to get them, but how do you make sure they’re absorbed into your system?
Is there more than one type of antioxidant?
Yes, there are many different types of antioxidants. However, to make things easy we’ll focus on two primary antioxidant groups: Carotenoids and polyphenols. Both can be found naturally in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Carotenoids include beta-carotene (found in carrots), lycopene (found in tomatoes), and lutein (found in spinach). Polyphenols include resveratrol (found in red grapes), flavonoids (found in tea), and anthocyanins (found in blueberries).
While these antioxidant categories may seem similar, they do differ slightly in how they work and how our bodies absorb them.
A good way to start getting more antioxidants into your diet is by eating five servings of fruit or vegetables each day which may sound like a lot, but it’s not as hard as you think.
If I am deficient in antioxidants, what should I do? There are two main ways to get more antioxidants into your system: eat more antioxidant-rich foods and supplement.
However, it’s important to remember that eating a healthy diet is always better than taking supplements. That said, there are some foods you can add to your diet that have been shown to boost levels of antioxidants—and they may even help ward off disease.
Here are five superfoods that pack a powerful punch when it comes to fighting free radicals: 1. Pomegranates 2. Berries 3. Dark Chocolate 4. Red Wine 5. Spinach
My daily antioxidant serving
I’m not a big breakfast eater. I know that it’s healthier and good for my body, but I always feel like there is so much more time during my day that could be productive if it wasn’t spent chewing and swallowing.
But every day, I try and make sure that at least one meal includes something packed with antioxidants, which are thought to help promote healthy aging. When I was younger, I didn’t give many things a second thought.
Now, as I get older, I want to start taking better care of myself by eating right and exercising regularly. So here are some of my favorite antioxidant-rich foods. If you don’t have any of these ingredients on hand, they can easily be substituted with others that have similar properties or health benefits.
The best part about all of these dishes is that they can easily be made vegetarian or vegan—simply replace animal products with plant-based ones. And if you aren’t feeling creative today, don’t worry; these meals are also perfect for using up leftovers from other meals.
Other sources of antioxidants
Herbs and spices (like oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic), green tea. Organic fruit and vegetables are also rich sources of antioxidants.
So are fruits like blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and plums; vegetables like spinach, kale, and cabbage; herbs like thyme and rosemary; teas such as hibiscus tea; cocoa powder; various nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
The following foods contain high levels of specific antioxidants: acai berries, blackcurrants, blackberries, goji berries, red grapes, and dark chocolate.