Many of us get giddy upon the sight of “antioxidant” in beauty and health products. But do you really know what these compounds are, and how exactly can they benefit your health and wellness?
Antioxidants are like bodyguards, protecting your cells from free radical damage that can cause various diseases.
You can choose from a wide array of antioxidant supplements on the market today. But, experts believe that the best way to get them is through your diet.
We are all lucky enough because guess what? There are antioxidant foods that we can start adding to our daily nutrition! So, what are these antioxidant foods?
Well, you may be surprised to know that some of your favorite fruits and veggies are actually high in antioxidant content. In this article, we’ve listed the top 10 high antioxidant foods, which include nuts, fruits, veggies, and even chocolate!
Find out how these foods can benefit you, and the simple, yummy ways on how to incorporate them into your diet.
How Exactly Do Antioxidants Benefit Us?
Before we reveal what are these antioxidant foods, let us first dissect how exactly antioxidants benefit us. Antioxidant sources prevent damage caused by free radicals, otherwise known as oxidative stress.
This oxidative stress commonly leads to various diseases.
Some of the major health problems that confront us today like dementia, cancer, and heart disease, have been associated with high levels of oxidative stress and inflammation.
Antioxidants work to combat these damages, which are often caused by poor eating habits, harmful sun exposure, smoking, certain medications, and even chronic stress.
While fighting free radical damage, antioxidants also guard healthy cells and prevent the growth of cancerous or malignant cells.
One of the best ways to measure the antioxidant content of foods is through the ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) analysis.
The FRAP test analyzes how well the foods can neutralize a certain free radical. Foods that have a higher FRAP value contain more antioxidants.
Below is a list of antioxidant foods that have an impressive FRAP value. You can start adding these foods to your diet to enjoy its antioxidant benefits:
FRAP Analysis: 4.7 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Artichokes are an amazingly delicious and healthy veggie that is often underrated. This tough-looking nutritional powerhouse is rich in folate, vitamins C and K, and dietary fiber.
What’s more, artichokes also contain significant amounts of antioxidants.
They are specifically abundant chlorogenic acid, which boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
How to add artichokes to your diet:
Artichokes are best steamed for consumption as doing so may increase its antioxidant content by 15 times. Boiling, meantime, may raise its antioxidant powers by eight times.
It is not advisable to fry artichokes, though, as this may decrease their antioxidant content.
FRAP Analysis: 2 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Beans are one of the healthiest nutritional sources you can consume. They are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and iron.
Beans are also incredibly low in fat, and high in antioxidants.
Certain beans like pinto beans are particularly a good source of kaempferol, an antioxidant that has been found to fight free radicals, chronic inflammation, and cancer growth.
How to add beans to your diet:
Luckily, you can enjoy the benefits of beans easily because they’re so simple to incorporate into your diet!
You can add beans to your tomato or pesto sauce, stir them into your soup, top them on your salad or bake them in your favorite goodies.
FRAP Analysis: 1.7 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Beetroots or beets commonly refer to the members of Beta vulgaris. Like other superfoods, beets are also packed with important nutrients like folate, fiber, iron, potassium, and of course – antioxidants.
Their impressive nutritional and antioxidant content is known to promote a healthy detox and prevent the risk of various illnesses.
They specifically contain high levels of betalains, the antioxidants that give beets their distinct reddish color. These betalains were found to reduce oxidative stress, preventing the risk of certain cancers.
How to add beets to your diet:
The easiest way to add beets to your diet is by drinking its juice!
You can also enhance your soup’s color and texture by incorporating beet into it or toss beets into your salad along with some green, leafy veggie, other nutrient-dense vegetables, and corns!
FRAP Analysis: 9.2 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Blueberries are low in calories and high in essential nutrients and antioxidants. The antioxidant powers of blueberries are strongly attributed to their flavonoid content.
These flavonoids (plant compounds) have been linked to blueberries’ generous health benefits.
In fact, many studies found that increasing the intake of plant foods like blueberries prevent the risk of several health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. They are also thought to improve skin and hair health, energy, and weight.
How to add blueberries to your diet:
You can top off your pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, and cereals with some blueberries to power up their flavors. You can also mix blueberries in your salads, breakfast foods, baked goods, and desserts.
5. Dark Chocolates
FRAP Analysis: 15 mmol for every 100 grams
Not a lot of people know that dark chocolates are incredibly rich in health benefits. In fact, they are among the top 10 healthiest foods on the planet.
Dark chocolates are also packed with essential nutrients like fiber, iron, magnesium, and flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant effects.
The significant amounts of flavonoid contained in dark chocolates have been linked to a reduced risk of cell damage, preventing illnesses such as heart disease.
And that’s not all because eating dark chocolates is also said to improve your mood as they also contain serotonin or the “happy chemical”.
How to add dark chocolate to your diet:
When buying dark chocolate, always choose the one that has 70 percent cocoa or higher.
You can enjoy a few squares of this healthy dark choc or blend it into a smoothie, add it to your cereal and other savory dishes or drizzle it onto your fresh fruits and even popcorn!
6. Goji Berries
FRAP Analysis: 4.3 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Goji berries are bright orange-red berries that are typically marketed as a superfood.
They have been used in Asia, particularly in China, for medicinal purposes, particularly in treating fever, high blood pressure, and diabetes among other health concerns.
Its benefits to one’s health are primarily attributed to its rich nutritional content. Goji berries are rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, iron, and even contains unique antioxidants called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides.
These specific antioxidants are said to provide various health benefits including reduced oxidative stress and cancer risk, improved immune functions, and enhanced liver health.
How to add goji berries to your diet:
You can enjoy a small handful of raw goji berries! You can also take it in its juice form or brew it in a tea.
You can also replace your raisins with goji berries in your muffins and other baked goods or add it to your favorite trail mix!
FRAP Analysis: 2.7 mmol for every 100 grams
Kale is a cruciferous veggie that belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens.
It is considered one of the most nutrient-dense veggies as it contains rich amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, calcium, and antioxidants.
Since they are low in carbs and high in nutrients and antioxidants, kales are considered the perfect detox food!
How to add kale to your diet:
Many people love potato chips, but they are unfortunately high in unhealthy carbs. There’s no need to fret, though, because you can still enjoy kale chips!
Yep, you can replace your often-unhealthy potato chips with this healthier alternative. Kale chips are baked; what’s more, you can flavor it with some of the healthiest herbs and spices, too!
FRAP Analysis: 10.6 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Pecans are a type of nut native to South America and Mexico. Many native Americans relied on pecans for food and trade.
These nuts are highly regarded for their rich omega-3 fatty acid content, which is known to promote heart health and prevent the risk of various diseases.
Pecans are also significantly rich in antioxidants, another key to a healthy heart. In fact, the USDA included them among the top 15 foods with the highest antioxidant content.
They also contain other key nutrients such as calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron – all of which offer impressive health benefits.
How to add pecans to your diet:
Any kind of nut can boost any meal’s flavor and texture. Pecans, in particular, can be a great addition to your cereals, yogurts, salads, and even soups!
You can also incorporate them into your pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods.
9. Red Cabbage
FRAP Analysis: 2.2 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Red cabbage often gives recipes a striking visual. But not is it only aesthetically remarkable but is nutritionally impressive as well.
Red cabbage boasts an impressive nutrient profile, containing high amounts of vitamins A and K, and antioxidants.
How to add red cabbage to your diet:
The manner by which red cabbage is cooked affects its antioxidant content. Stir-frying and boiling red cabbage may raise its antioxidant powers, while steaming can reduce its antioxidant content by nearly 35 percent.
FRAP Analysis: 0.9 mmol of antioxidants for every 100 grams
Research provided evidence on why spinach should be embraced by all, not just Popeye. This green leafy veggie is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and even phytonutrients.
Aside from its impressive nutritional value, spinach also boasts of antioxidants that help protect the eyes against harmful UV rays and degenerative diseases.
Another study suggested that antioxidant effects and key nutrients contained in spinach can boost cognitive function.
Additionally, these dietary antioxidants guard the skin against damage, repair impaired skin, and prevent the risk of skin cancer down the road.
How to add spinach to your diet:
Spinach is also easy to add to your diet. You can put some in your casseroles, pasta, soups, and sandwiches! You can even make your own healthy spinach pizza crust!
Adding antioxidant foods to your diet can help boost your health. They guard your body against oxidative damage that often leads to various chronic diseases.
To reap its maximum benefits, make sure that you consume them in their recommended amounts.
Also, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about your dietary plans, especially if you have medical conditions or taking certain medications.
Some antioxidant foods like spinach may interact with specific medications like blood thinners as spinach is also rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that plays a major role in blood clotting.