Because of the many health benefits of antioxidants, everyone should be eating more foods high in antioxidants. We should all be making an effort to add more of these antioxidant-rich foods into our diet, for the sake of our overall health and wellness.
Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals. Free radicals in the body can cause a variety of health conditions and diseases, as well as speed up the process of ageing.
Antioxidants help your body fend off diseases and fight signs of ageing, and that’s why foods high in antioxidants should be part of everyone’s diet. Following a diet that is richer in antioxidants could reduce your risk of cancer and disease, as well as improving brain health, skin health, mood, and reducing oxidative stress.
Oxidation is an important process that takes place in the human body. Oxidative stress, however, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from oxidative stress is to eat foods high in antioxidants and live a healthy lifestyle while following that healthy, balanced diet.
You can balance your antioxidant and free radical levels by limiting your intake of processed foods, exercising regularly, reducing stress, and maintaining healthy body weight. It’s also helpful to reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals and toxins (such as cigarette smoke).
Below are 10 foods high in antioxidants that you should add to your grocery list:
Dark chocolate is surprisingly rich in nutritious substances. According to an in-depth analysis of antioxidant-rich substances, dark chocolate has around 15 mmol of antioxidants per 100g. The antioxidants in cocoa and dark chocolate are also connected to a range of health benefits, including improved heart health and reduced inflammation.
Cocoa-rich products like dark chocolate can improve your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even lower your levels of LDL cholesterol.
Based on the same antioxidant review above, Pecans contain 10.6 mmol of antioxidants per 100g, and they’re an excellent source of healthy minerals and fats. Pecans can also help to raise your blood antioxidant levels, according to some studies.
Similar to dark chocolate, pecans are great for reducing your LDL levels, and they can give you a good dose of heart and brain-healthy fats, like avocados. Just remember these nuts can also be high in calories.
Nutritious and low in calories, blueberries contain up to 9.2 mmol of antioxidants per 100g. Other studies also suggest blueberries could contain the highest levels of antioxidants among any fruit or vegetable. Adding a sprinkling of dark chocolate, pecans, and blueberries to your morning granola could be the ultimate way to start your day.
Additional benefits of blueberries include reduced inflammation, improved brain functioning, and reduced risk factors for heart disease. The heart-healthy nature of blueberries is attributed to the anthocyanins antioxidants in the fruit.
Great as part of a blueberry and strawberry antioxidant smoothie, strawberries are a great source of both vitamin C and antioxidants. These succulent fruits feature 5.4 mmol of antioxidants for every 100g, and they contain plenty of anthocyanins, which are great for heart health.
Studies show that taking anthocyanin supplements can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) level among people with heart disease or poor cholesterol.
An often-overlooked but highly nutritious vegetable, artichokes are packed with benefits. These vegetables are a great source of minerals, dietary fibre, and antioxidants. 100g of artichoke will give you 4.7 mmol of antioxidants. You also get the extra benefits of extra chlorogenic acid, which can reduce inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
While artichokes usually have high antioxidant levels, you can raise your intake by steaming the vegetables instead of frying them.
Great for salads, snacks, and breakfast, Goji berries are popular in Chinese medicine, but they’re also packed full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Goji berries contain around 4.3mmol of antioxidants per 100g, and they also contain Lycium barbarum polysaccharides.
The special polysaccharides of Goji berries are linked to reduced risks of heart disease, rapid aging, and cancer. Like pecans, Goji berries increase your blood antioxidant levels too.
Raspberries are a delicious source of vitamin C, dietary fibre, manganese, and antioxidants. You’ll get 4 mmol of antioxidants for every 100g of raspberries, and studies show the components of these tart fruits can also reduce heart disease. One particularly interesting study found components in antioxidants killed up to 90% of cancer cells in breast, colon and stomach cancers.
Like many other fruits, raspberries are particularly rich in anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress responsible for heart disease.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. One of the most nutritious vegetables available, it contains a lot of vitamin A, C, and K, as well as 2.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100g. Red varieties of kale can include almost twice as much (4.1 mmol per 100g).
All kinds of kale are great for your health, but red varieties contain more anthocyanin antioxidants, which is what gives them their colour. Kale is also a good source of calcium.
Red or purple cabbage is high in vitamins A, C, and K, with a strong antioxidant content of 2.2 mmol per 100g. One again, red cabbage is better than the green alternative because of the anthocyanins responsible for the red color. Red cabbage is also a great source of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant for the body, and a great tool for immune system functionality.
Like other vegetables, the way you prepare your cabbage can influence its antioxidant content. Boiling and stir-frying will drive better results than steaming.
Beans such as pinto beans are excellent sources of fibre and antioxidants. Pinto beans contain around 2 mmol of antioxidants per 100g. They also contain a special kind of antioxidant called kaempferol, which frequently links to various health benefits like suppressed cancer growth.
You can also get plenty of antioxidants and health-boosting benefits from other kinds of beans, like broad beans and kidney beans.
What about Antioxidant Supplements?
A consistent intake of antioxidants through foods high in antioxidants is important for good health. The best way to get the right dose of antioxidants is to find out which vitamins your body is deficient in, and top up on the nutrients you need. You can use broccoli for a boost of vitamin K, for instance, or try strawberries and oranges for vitamin C. Almonds are a natural source of vitamin E.
Most people should aim for at least three servings per day of antioxidant-rich vegetables such as kale, spinach, and red cabbage. You can also benefit from one or two servings per day of antioxidant-rich fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
Getting your antioxidants through food sources means you get all the extra benefits that come with those fresh fruits and vegetables too, like higher energy levels and vital nutrients.
While antioxidant supplements are a possibility, they won’t have as much of a benefit on your body as a healthy, balanced diet. Food compounds work synergistically to give your body the nutrition it needs.
Remember, when stocking up on foods high in antioxidants, stick to fresh, whole foods whenever you can, as antioxidant content may be influenced by food processing.
Mastering Your Antioxidant Intake
Antioxidants are an essential part of any healthy diet. The more antioxidants you consume on a regular basis, the easier you’ll be able to fight off free radicals which could be causing damage to your mental health and to your body.
If you want to find out the optimal diet type for you, based on your DNA, take a CircleDNA test and get your unique dietary profile. This includes information about which vitamins and minerals you might have higher needs of, as well as which diet type is best for you based on your genetics.