You may have heard of the word “antioxidants” and that they are good for your health.
Well, what you have heard is totally correct and you should certainly be making a serious effort to consume as many of this disease-fighting nutrients.
Let’s make the beneficial effects of antioxidants more clearer to you.
Free radicals are volatile chemicals produced by our body and are also taken in from our environment.
These free radicals are very harmful to your health as they cause cell damage in the body, leading to aging and a variety of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
Antioxidants are nutrients which guard the cells against free radicals, neutralizing their effects and keeping you healthy and disease-free.
High Antioxidant Foods
So now that you have a concise idea of what antioxidants actually do, here are 12 foods and beverages for you to incorporate in your daily diet.
12. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, with its higher amounts of cocoa, has more antioxidants (polyphenols & flavanols) as compared to other chocolate varieties.
Flavanols especially are known to decrease the risk of diabetes & help in scaling down blood pressure.
These antioxidants are known to decrease inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.
11. Green Tea
Green tea is known for its antioxidant potential and it is no wonder why.
It is a very rich source of the catechin EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is a very powerful antioxidant and has been backed by research to aid in the treatment of a number of diseases.
Pecan, a nut variety native to the Southern United States and Mexico has high amounts of antioxidants in it, along with having decent amounts of minerals & healthy fats.
Research has shown that consumption of pecans can help in raising blood antioxidant levels.
Cherries are a great source of vitamin C, which has a variety of health-beneficial properties while they also have abundant amounts of the antioxidant ‘anthocyanin’ in them, which is known to decrease inflammation and aid in reducing cholesterol.
Another antioxidant found in cherries is ‘melatonin’, which is known to guard the skin against U-V radiation of the sun and assist in regulating sleep cycles.
Especially, Montmorency cherries are a very rich source of this antioxidant as compared to other varieties.
Beans are a great antioxidant source along with being rich in various other nutrients.
Lentils & black-eyed peas contain high amounts of folate which acts as an antioxidant in the body while black beans and kidney beans have it in decent quantities.
Soybeans and Edamame have vitamin C and selenium in them as antioxidants.
Pinto beans have kaempferol, an antioxidant in them which is associated with a decrease in chronic inflammation and restrained cancer growth of many cancers.
Berries are among the topmost sources of antioxidants, with a variety of berries like acai berries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries and more being rich in antioxidants.
You can consume them whole or in the form of delicious fruit juices.
To start with, superfood acai berries are one of the most abundant sources of antioxidant polyphenols and are known to boost antioxidant levels in the blood and lower the chemicals related to oxidative stress.
Cranberries also have antioxidant polyphenols but should be consumed as a whole for getting the antioxidant benefits as the majority of the antioxidants they contain are in their skin.
Goji berries, which are another superfood, have high amounts of zeaxanthin and vitamin A.This two antioxidants help in enhancing eye health.
Blueberries have anthocyanin antioxidants in them which decrease oxidative stress, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Raspberries have ellagitannins, an antioxidant polyphenol in them which is known to decrease oxidative stress while strawberries are a great source of vitamin C.
Most of the berries, particularly raspberries and strawberries contain ellagic acid, another antioxidant which may aid in guarding against cancer-causing agents.
Beetroot is abundant in a class of antioxidants called betalains.
Basically, betalains are a group of pigments and are responsible for imparting the blood-like color to beetroots.
Research has shown betalains to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal and colon cancers.
Kale, a cruciferous vegetable also popularly known as a superfood is one of the best foods you can consume for your health.
It is a rich source of a wide variety of nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants & vitamins.
Several antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, K, lutein & zeaxanthin and more are found in kale.
Particularly, the red varieties of kale such as Redbor kale and Red Russian kale have significantly higher levels of anthocyanins and other antioxidants in them than other kale varieties.
Artichokes have high levels of antioxidants with cancer-fighting properties along with other nutrients.
Chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant found in significant quantities in artichokes has been backed by research to decrease the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes & certain cancers.
When it comes to the antioxidant content in artichokes, preparation is the key.
Always consume artichokes after steaming or boiling them as this leads to an increase in their antioxidant content.
Steaming them leads to a 15x increase while boiling leads to an 8x increase.
One of the highly nutritious vegetables, broccoli is also an anti-cancer food thanks to it containing erucin and sulforaphane – two isothiocyanates (class of antioxidants) with cancer-combating potential.
Another nutrition powerhouse vegetable, spinach is full of antioxidants, vitamins & minerals among other nutrients.
It has significant amounts of the carotenoids lutein & zeaxanthin in it, antioxidants which aid in guarding the eyes from age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and from the UV rays of the sun.
That’s it then. All the above-mentioned foods & beverages along with being antioxidant-rich also have a wide array of other healthful nutrients in them.
So start consuming them regularly and embrace a healthy life!