It is very important to eat foods that are high in antioxidants because they play a vital role when it comes to keeping the body in good health.
Before knowing the benefits of eating foods that are high in antioxidants, what are antioxidants? Briefly, antioxidants are substances produced by the body and also found in foods that help protect cells from damage.
This damage is mostly caused by compounds in the body known as free radicals. These free radicals are highly reactive compounds that can damage cells and lead to the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
To avoid this damage to the cells in the body eat foods that are high in antioxidants as they counter the damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, they protect your cells and help prevent disease.
However to increase your overall antioxidant intake, eat a diet with a wide array of plants, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, fungi, whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices, and even edible flowers.
Foods That Are High in Antioxidants
Here are the top foods that are high in antioxidants, how they benefit your health, and simple ways to add them to your diet.
The first foods on this list of foods that are high in antioxidants are blueberries, although they are low in calories, blueberries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
According to a FRAP analysis, blueberries have up to 9.2 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 oz (100 g)
Some studies suggest that blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among common types of fruits.
Additionally, research from test-tube and animal studies has shown that the antioxidants in blueberries may delay the decline in brain function that tends to happen with age.
Artichokes are a delicious and nutritious vegetable not very common in the North American diet that is very rich in antioxidants.
They, however, have a long history people in ancient times used their leaves as a remedy to treat liver conditions like jaundice.
Artichokes are also a great source of dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Based on a FRAP analysis, artichokes contain up to 4.7 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 oz (100 g).
Specifically, artichokes are very rich in the antioxidants known as chlorogenic acid. Studies suggest that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of chlorogenic acid may reduce the risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
As one of the foods that are high in antioxidants apples are also linked to improved outcomes related to diabetes, weight management, bone, lung, and gut health.
This is likely due to apple’s polyphenols, the antioxidant compounds apples contain. A 2022 research review concluded that when it comes to chronic diseases, an apple a day could indeed keep the doctor away.
You can enjoy your apples alone or paired with nuts, nut butter, or hummus. Add chopped apples to oatmeal or overnight oats, smoothies, garden salads, slaws, and stir-fries.
Also, apples can also be added to desserts, like dark chocolate-covered apple slices and cinnamon-baked apples.
Cocoa boasts abundant polyphenol antioxidants like flavanols. Besides reducing inflammation, these compounds positively influence the gut microbiota.
They promote the proliferation of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium while diminishing harmful ones like Clostridium perfringens, thus bolstering the body’s immune system.
Moreover, cocoa antioxidants play a role in brain health. A review from 2020 determined that flavanols found in cocoa enhance cognitive abilities in young adults, particularly improving learning and memory functions.
5. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate of good quality has high levels of nutrients and antioxidants.
Researchers have linked dark chocolate to a range of potential health benefits, including lower risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation, less chance of high blood pressure, and promotion of good cholesterol
One review of 10 studies involving close to 300 participants showed that dark chocolate helps reduce both upper and lower blood pressure measurements.
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Pecans as one of the foods that are high in antioxidants offer a high level of good fat, calories, minerals, and antioxidants.
One study showed that the body can absorb antioxidants from pecans, increasing their levels in the blood.
However, It was also found that eating raw pecans helps lower the blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, which may mean that these nuts help prevent heart disease.
Strawberries contain a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, with their vibrant red hue attributed to anthocyanins, potent antioxidants.
Research in 2016 demonstrated that incorporating anthocyanin supplements led to decreased LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with high cholesterol, potentially aiding in the prevention of heart disease by reducing LDL levels.
Enjoying raw strawberries as a snack or adding them to salads or various dishes is a great way to consume them.
However, while strawberries are sometimes used in baked goods, these products generally lack health benefits and aren’t ideal for individuals aiming to lose weight.
6. Goji berries
Goji berries, derived from Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense plants, have been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.
These berries are frequently hailed as a superfood due to their abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Notably, they contain exclusive antioxidants called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, associated with lowered risks of heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, goji berries demonstrate a high potential for elevating blood antioxidant levels.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables encompass a range of produce like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts, renowned for their rich antioxidant content.
They contain diverse antioxidants such as carotenoids (like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin), flavonoids, anthocyanins, and terpenes.
Consumption of these vegetables is strongly associated with shielding against cancer and impeding its progression.
Additionally, another category of antioxidants in cruciferous vegetables, known as glucosinolates, has demonstrated efficacy in combatting cancer.
These compounds might also yield favorable effects on neurological and psychiatric conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Mushrooms boast an assortment of antioxidants, recognized for their ability to combat aging and decrease the risk of chronic diseases.
They stand out as one of the foremost anti-inflammatory food options available.
Additionally, mushrooms are low in calories, with a cup of whole white mushrooms providing 21 calories, while a single portabella mushroom contains merely 18.5 calories.
Moreover, mushrooms hold the distinction of being the sole non-animal source of naturally occurring vitamin D, especially when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
All nuts contain potent antioxidants known as polyphenols, with walnuts, pistachios, and pecans standing out for their particularly high antioxidant content per serving.
These antioxidants aid in reducing inflammation and potentially contribute to both bone and brain health.
Nuts and nut butter offer versatility in cooking, serving as ingredients or garnishes across various dishes. Incorporate nuts into smoothies, oatmeal, energy balls, salads, cooked vegetables, stir-fries, and slaw for added texture and flavor.
For a savory twist, blend nut butter with garlic, ginger, and chili pepper to create a flavorful sauce perfect for drizzling over steamed veggies and tofu.
Furthermore, nut butter serves as a versatile accompaniment. Pair it with raw veggies or fresh fruit for a healthy snack, or layer it with melted dark chocolate to create a nutritious indulgence.
Raspberries are soft, tart berries that are often used in desserts as one of the foods that are high in antioxidants.
Raspberries are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. Based on a FRAP analysis, raspberries have up to 4 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 oz (100 g).
Several studies have linked the antioxidants and other components in raspberries to lower risks of cancer and heart disease.
Plus, the antioxidants in raspberries, especially anthocyanins, may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. This may reduce the risk of heart disease.
11. Red cabbage
Red cabbage is very healthy and contains many nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K plus several antioxidants.
Red cabbage, like strawberries and red kale, contains anthocyanins. In addition to giving the vegetable its red color, this group of antioxidants helps promote heart health, prevent cancer, and reduce inflammation.
However, more research is still necessary to determine the health effects of eating red cabbage. A person can eat red cabbage as part of a salad or as a cooked vegetable.
Studies show that pinto beans possess properties that could aid in inhibiting certain types of cancer. These legumes serve as an exceptional source of both protein and dietary fiber, with some varieties, like pinto beans, also boasting high antioxidant levels.
Pinto beans contain a plant-based flavonoid known as kaempferol, which exhibits the potential to impede cancer cell growth and reduce inflammation.
Various research efforts have associated kaempferol with the suppression of specific cancers such as breast, kidney, lung, and bladder cancers.
Despite encouraging findings, the extent of kaempferol’s antioxidant impact on humans remains relatively unknown, as most studies have been conducted on animals and in lab settings.
Nonetheless, considering the multitude of potential health benefits associated with beans, incorporating them into one’s regular diet is advisable.
13. Purple or red grapes
Foods that are high in antioxidant includes the Purple and red grape varieties which contains vitamin C, selenium, and antioxidants.
The two antioxidants contained in grapes are anthocyanin and proanthocyanin, which may help protect a person from heart disease or cancer.
However, there is a need for additional research to show the exact effects that eating grapes has on heart health and cancer risk.
Beets are known vegetables that contain antioxidants belonging to a class of pigments called betalains. Betalains may help prevent colon cancer and digestive issues.
Also, beets are sources of dietary fiber like iron, folate, and potassium; these substances may also help with suppressing inflammation.
Foods that are high in antioxidants are numerous everyday foods that offer a means to boost antioxidant intake, potentially supporting heart and eye health, averting cancer, and shielding against prevalent illnesses linked to detrimental free radicals.
Yet, researchers aim to ascertain the precise impact of each of these foods on increasing antioxidant levels and their effectiveness in preventing various diseases.
Understanding the extent of their contribution and their efficacy in disease prevention remains an ongoing research focus.