10 antioxidant-rich foods to include in your diet
Including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet has never been more important, with air pollution, tobacco smoke, UV rays, alcohol and fried foods exposing us all to countless sources of stress. oxidative. Our fast modern lifestyles have also fueled the surge in chronic health conditions, but the good news is that including more antioxidant-rich foods in your diet can help your body resist this constant onslaught of free radicals.
You may be wondering, what are antioxidants? In short, antioxidants are molecules designed to counter the harmful effects of oxidative stress, preserve the integrity of our cells and protect our DNA from damage. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants can even delay the aging process. However, since our body is unable to synthesize the vast majority of these vital compounds, they must be ingested with food.
Don’t know where to find them? No need to worry. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 great examples of antioxidant-rich foods to help you fight free radicals and improve your long-term health. You might also find our 7 Day Plant Based Diet Meal Plan helpful when it comes to learning new ways to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into your daily diet.
Berries are a true nutritional powerhouse. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, black currants and cranberries are one of the best food sources of vitamins and fiber. Several studies, such as the one published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (opens in a new tab)have shown how regular consumption of berries can significantly reduce levels of inflammation and significantly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
These strong health-promoting properties are mainly due to the exceptional levels of antioxidants in these fruits, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and vitamin C.
Although each fruit in this family is beneficial to our health, some will exhibit stronger antioxidant properties than others. According to a review published in the food (opens in a new tab) black currants and blueberries tend to have the highest concentration of these vital compounds.
Pomegranates are small red fruits filled with crunchy, juicy seeds. A review published in the International Journal of Chemical Studies (opens in a new tab) revealed how these fruits can be helpful in treating a host of different infections and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases like osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although not nearly as popular as berries, pomegranates contain a relatively similar level of health-promoting nutrients. According to a review published in the Journal of Food Bioactives (opens in a new tab)they are a rich source of many different antioxidants, including ellagic acids, gallic acids, anthocyanins, and ellagitannins.
Sweet and juicy, plums are another example of a great antioxidant-rich food. As described in an analysis published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (opens in a new tab)a medium-sized fruit contains nearly 6.5 mg of vitamin C (nearly 10% of the recommended daily value).
Several studies included in a review published in Phytotherapy research (opens in a new tab) have shown that regular consumption of plums can improve cognitive function, bone density and cardiovascular health.
If you want to supplement your antioxidant intake, consider making dark chocolate your next snack of choice. While the bitter flavor of dark chocolate isn’t to everyone’s liking, it’s one of the healthiest items you can find in the candy aisle. Its main ingredient, cocoa powder, is a rich dietary source of flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins. These are compounds that have been shown to lower inflammation levels, improve cardiovascular health and contribute to better immune responses.
According to a review published in the Oxidative Medicine and Cell Longevity (opens in a new tab), cocoa consumption may also have a positive impact on insulin resistance, cognitive function and mood. It should be noted however that the more the chocolate is processed, the less antioxidant capacity it will have. To get the most out of it, aim for a minimally processed chocolate with a high cocoa content.
Beets are undoubtedly one of the best antioxidant-rich foods you can include in your diet. Multiple health benefits are associated with their consumption. These root vegetables provide a significant amount of nitrates, compounds that have a direct impact on the functioning of our cardiovascular system.
Beet juice also contains a high amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. These vegetables are particularly abundant in betalains, polyphenols that give them their characteristic purple color.
According to a review published in the Nutrients (opens in a new tab) journal, regular consumption of beets and beet juice can lead to lower levels of inflammation, better cognition, improved blood pressure, and a significantly reduced risk of developing several types of cancer. A review published in Sports medicine (opens in a new tab) also suggests that there is evidence that beetroot juice can have a significant impact on athletic performance in athletes.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Kale, spinach, watercress, cabbage, or lettuce are not only very low in calories and dietary fat, they also provide a significant amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Spinach is a great example of a leafy green vegetable that is high in antioxidants. Research published in Food and function (opens in a new tab) have shown that regular consumption of spinach can reduce the risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and several types of cancer.
Additionally, this leafy green vegetable may be especially beneficial for our eye and brain health. It contains two powerful carotenoid antioxidants: lutein and zeaxanthin. And according to a review published in the Nutrition advice (opens in a new tab) newspaper, lutein and zeaxanthin can absorb harmful blue light that enters the eye, protecting this vital organ from degeneration.
Artichoke is a vegetable that tastes similar to asparagus and is most commonly found in the mediterranean diet. They are a rich source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fibre, as well as potassium and vitamin C.
According to a study recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (opens in a new tab), artichokes have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These typically bulky vegetables are also a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin C, hydroxycinnamic acids, polyphenols and flavonoids.
Legumes: beans, lentils and peas
When you think of foods rich in antioxidants, it’s likely that legumes — beans, lentils, and peas — don’t cross your mind. However, many of these examples of these staples provide a high amount of polyphenols with strong free radical scavenging abilities.
According to an analysis published in the Journal of Food Science (opens in a new tab), yellow pea, green pea, chickpea, soybean, kidney bean, lentils and kidney bean are the lentils with the highest antioxidant capacities. They are also part of best sources of vegan protein to include in your diet and rich in fiber.
Although nuts are very high in calories and dietary fat, they have many health benefits. A review published in Nutrients (opens in a new tab) found that regular nut consumption can significantly reduce the risk of developing a host of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, gallstones and certain types of cancer. One of the reasons for this positive impact is that these staple foods contain many carotenoids, phytosterols (plant steroids) and ellagic acids with strong antioxidant properties.
And according to a comparison published in the Food science and technology (opens in a new tab) journal, walnuts and pecans tend to show the greatest ability to scavenge free radicals.
Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast — it’s filling, nutritious, and easy to combine with your toppings of choice. It is also rich in protein, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamins B, C, E and K.
According to a review published by the Antioxidants (opens in a new tab) journal, oats contain high levels of many important antioxidants, including beta-carotene, polyphenols, chlorophyll and flavonoids. They have been shown to be excellent at scavenging free radicals, activating cell repair mechanisms and protecting against cell damage, as described in the food (opens in a new tab) log.
Antioxidants. (2021, March 3). The nutritional source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/ (opens in a new tab)
Antioxidants: In depth. (2013). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth (opens in a new tab)