What if you could fight inflammation and chronic disease by eating some of your favorite foods?
That dream might not be too far from reality!
Keep reading to find out 15 healthy antioxidant foods to add to your diet.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells against oxidative stress and damage. Oxidative stress is linked with inflammation and can lead to chronic health problems like heart disease and certain types of cancer.
There are several types of antioxidants. Some antioxidants are available in vitamin form (like vitamin C and vitamin E), while others are in pigments that give fruit and vegetables their color.
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Why are antioxidants important for our health?
Antioxidants are primarily found in plant foods like fruit and vegetables. Diets rich in plant-based foods are associated with lower rates of obesity and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage your cells. Your body is exposed to free radicals through things like tobacco smoke, ultraviolet light (UV rays), pollutants in the air, certain chemicals, and many other sources.
Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and can even help prevent them from forming in the first place. Without antioxidants, free radicals would quickly do a lot of damage to your body.
Eating antioxidant foods not only helps protect your body against free radical damage and inflammation, but there are other potential benefits as well. Antioxidant foods are often high in other beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
15 Antioxidant Foods To Add To Your Diet
Blueberries get their rich color from anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant. Anthocyanins are the largest category of water-soluble pigments in plants.
They are also called flavonoids, a class of antioxidants. Anthocyanins have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic (cancer-fighting), and antimicrobial properties.
Studies have found a correlation between anthocyanin consumption and a lower risk of heart disease. Blueberries are also rich in fiber which can help promote healthy cholesterol levels and promote digestive health.
2. Green tea
Green tea is a source of polyphenols, another type of antioxidant. The polyphenols in green tea make up around 30% of its dry weight.
Green tea is rich in glutathione, a type of antioxidant. Glutathione deficiency can lead to oxidative stress and is linked with diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
3. Goji berries
You can eat goji berries raw, in powder form, or dried. Dried goji berries have a texture similar to raisins, making them perfect for adding to hot cereal or salads.
Three tablespoons of goji berries provide 140% of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye health as well as immune health and reproduction.
One medium artichoke provides 25% of your daily value of vitamin C. Add antioxidant foods like artichokes to your salads or homemade pizza along with other brightly colored veggies.
While kale might get a lot of attention, spinach is a nutrient-rich “superfood” as well. Spinach contains antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, and beta carotene. Lutein is an important nutrient for your eye health since it helps your eyes filter light.
Beta carotene is another important nutrient for eye health. Your body uses beta carotene to convert into vitamin A, a nutrient that helps your vision as well as your immune system and reproductive health.
While many people think of oranges as the richest vitamin C fruit, you might be surprised to learn that strawberries are higher in vitamin C by weight than oranges.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known antioxidants and is important for immune health, wound healing, the formation of collagen, and the absorption of iron.
Pecans are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin. Vitamin E helps promote immune health and can prevent oxidative stress.
Beets get their deep red color from beta carotene and lutein, two antioxidants. Beetroot has been named one of the top ten most potent antioxidant vegetables, so get ready for some stained fingers and add beets to your next meal!
10. Dark chocolate
High-quality dark chocolate not only tastes good, but it also has antioxidant properties. Cocoa contains flavonoids and may also play a role in heart health by boosting nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps relax your blood vessels which increases circulation.
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage (80% and up) is a good source of fiber due to the cocoa beans. For instance, one serving of 85% dark chocolate contains four grams of fiber or 14% of the daily value for fiber.
Fiber is a nutrient with heart health benefits as well as digestive health, so what better way to get it through a rich piece of dark chocolate?
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin C as well as sulforaphane, another type of antioxidant. Sulforaphane may play a role in fighting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease.
12. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and beta carotene, thanks to their rich orange color. Studies show there is an inverse relationship between consuming nutrients like beta carotene and heart disease.
13. Tart cherries
Tart cherries are another fruit rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins may play a role in cancer prevention by aiding in cancer cell death and fighting oxidative stress which can damage cells.
14. Black beans
Black beans are a source of anthocyanins and an antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin is thought to be effective against cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological diseases, obesity, and asthma.
Beans are a high-fiber food and are a good source of iron and vitamin C. Iron is a mineral necessary for building a protein in red blood cells.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so eating vitamin C-rich food with iron-rich food is a good technique to prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia.
While all berries are nutritious, blackberries are especially rich in antioxidants. Blackberries have a greater antioxidant content than blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Add blackberries to your favorite types of food, including smoothies, pancakes, and salads.
Eating food rich in antioxidants may help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, among other health conditions. Many of these chronic diseases stem from inflammation, which antioxidants can fight in some of the food you eat.
The most powerful antioxidant foods come from rich-colored plant foods. Whether you enjoy them raw, prepared in smoothies, or as a supplement, antioxidant foods can provide health benefits. To gain the most benefit from the antioxidant content of foods, be sure to include them in your diet regularly.