8 Foods Rich In Antioxidants
A healthy diet is vital for many reasons. It helps keep your immune system functioning as it should, ensures that your bone and muscle mass is where it should be, and aids in the function of all your vital organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, and liver. Many healthy foods provide antioxidants, which are crucial to the functioning of the body as a whole. But what are antioxidants? Why are they important? And what foods rich in antioxidants should you be eating to make sure you get enough?
What is a natural antioxidant?
Antioxidants are compounds found in foods and produced in your body. They are part of the body’s defense team; they keep cells from getting damaged by harmful free radicals. While there are always both antioxidants and free radicals in the body, the two need to be balanced so that a state known as oxidative stress doesn’t occur.
Oxidative stress is the term used to describe a high amount of free radicals in the body. It can lead to structural cell and DNA damage. When the body experiences oxidative stress for long periods of time, it can increase the risk of developing chronic disease. That’s why getting enough antioxidants is vital to your overall health, now and in the future.
Which foods have the most antioxidants?
Scientists use a method known as FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) to determine which foods have the most antioxidants. The following eight foods are high on the list, and you should definitely be eating more of them to help stave off oxidative stress.
1. Dark chocolate
Yes, you read right – chocolate is top of this list! Dark chocolate has an even higher count of antioxidants than fruits like blueberries and raspberries, making it a great choice for those with a sweet tooth. In a 100g serving of dark chocolate, you can get up to 15 mmol of antioxidants. Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Not everyone loves pecans, but there’s no arguing when it comes to their high antioxidant content. Native to Mexico and South America, these nuts have healthy fats and minerals and contain up to 10.6 mmol of antioxidants per 100g serving. They have also been shown to raise antioxidant levels in the blood for further help in warding off oxidative stress.
Blueberries are often regarded as a “superfood”, and that’s because of their nutrient value. This small but mighty fruit is nutrient-dense and low in calories, and contains up to 9.2 mmol of antioxidants per 100g serving. Some research has also found that among the top most consumed fruits and vegetables, blueberries reign supreme when it comes to antioxidant content.
Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits on the planet, and for good reason. They’re delicious, versatile, and contain essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. According to the FRAP analysis of foods, strawberries have up to 5.4 mmol of antioxidants per 100g serving. Specific antioxidants known as anthocyanins are also found in strawberries, which is what gives them their color. Strawberries can also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Artichokes are not all that common in North American cuisine – however, considering their nutrient content, they should be! This vegetable was even used as a remedy to treat certain liver disease thousands of years ago. When it comes to antioxidants, artichokes contain up to 4.7 mmol per 100g serving. One specific antioxidant in artichokes that makes them worth eating is known as chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid can help to reduce risk of chronic diseases such as cancer because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.
6. Goji Berries
Goji berries are typically consumed dry and come from two different plants: the Lycium barbarum and the Lycium chinense. For more than 2000 years, Chinese medicine has used goji berries for their medicinal properties. Aside from being delicious, goji berries are jam-packed with nutrients and contain 4.3 mmol of antioxidants per 100g serving. Specific antioxidants known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides are found in the fruit; they have been linked to a reduced risk for cancer and may help reduce skin aging.
Kale was one of the most popular foods around for a while, and many claimed it had superfood status. Whether you believe in superfoods or not, there is no denying that kale packs a serious nutritional punch when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The cruciferous vegetable contains 2.7 mmol per 100g serving. What’s more is that different varieties of kale may have even higher antioxidant concentration. For example, it’s thought that redbor and red Russian kale may have up to 4.1 mmol of antioxidants per 100g serving.
Elderberries aren’t always the easiest to come by, but that doesn’t mean they should be left off this list! In fact, a 100g serving of elderberries contain close to double the amount of antioxidants than the same size serving of blueberries. Since these berries aren’t always found in every grocery store, elderberry can also be taken in supplement form to reap the benefits of its high antioxidant content.
So there you have it – plenty of foods to choose from to help you get the antioxidants you need to keep your body as healthy as possible!