Foods antioxidants are plentiful and every healthy diet should include them. Antioxidants have been shown to assist in preventing and repairing oxidative stress, a process that damages cells and has been associated with the development of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. These disease-fighting antioxidants are found in many common fruits and vegetables, and they are easy to add to your diet.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are minerals, vitamins and plant-based nutrients that work to protect and repair cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are harmful to our bodies and that we are regularly exposed to from pollution, medicines and regular body processes. Along with leaving us susceptible to many chronic diseases, free radicals also weaken the immune system. For these reasons, it is important to eat antioxidant-rich foods to ward off infections, colds and other diseases.
Most of the food rich in antioxidants can be found in the produce aisle of your local grocery store. The 3 major antioxidant vitamins – vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene – are all found in the most colorful produce. To get the most benefit from the vitamins in these foods, you should eat them raw or just lightly steamed.
Fruits Containing Antioxidants
The fruits that have the highest antioxidant content are:
- berries (with cranberries, blueberries and blackberries topping the list)
- dried plums
- red delicious apples
- granny smith apples
- sweet cherries
- black plums
Vegetables Containing Antioxidants
Beans, Russet potatoes and artichokes topped the list of vegetables for antioxidant content. Of the beans, small red beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans have the highest amount of antioxidants.
Nuts Containing Antioxidants
Heart-healthy nuts also rank high on the list of antioxidant rich foods. Pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts top the nut category.
Spices Containing Antioxidants
Several spices such as cinnamon, cloves and oregano are all rich in antioxidants. These are generally consumed in much smaller quantities, though, than other antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, so their effects are more minimal.
Beverages Containing Antioxidants
The two highest ranking antioxidant-rich beverages are:
- green tea
- red wine
Tips for Choosing Antioxidant-Rich Foods
There are many different types of antioxidants that all protect your cells from different kinds of damage. Because of this, it is important to eat a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting enough valuable antioxidants in your diet is to always eat plenty of fresh vegetables. If you can’t eat a salad daily, consider drinking fresh vegetable juice or investing in a super green food product to supplement your diet.
Eat fruit moderately, but do not overload on it in an effort to increase your antioxidant intake, as that can have a negative impact on your dental health, as well as your blood sugar and insulin levels.
By eating a well-balanced diet that follows the nutritional standards set forth by the USDA’s Food Pyramid, you should consume enough antioxidants in your diet to benefit from their effects. Be sure to include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet daily, and you will be helping your body fight off disease and illness.