The importance of eating antioxidant rich foods is not lost on us. But, what are they? And what role do they play in our diet? As you may have suspected, a very crucial one!
Antioxidants are substances that are present in food that can protect cells from damage. They especially resist the type of damage caused by oxidation. The process of oxidation begins when metabolized oxygen results in the production of free radicals. These free radicals tend to steal electrons from other molecules. This results in considerable damage to cell membranes, cellular lipids, proteins and even DNA. Oxidative stress contributes to diseases of the heart, cancers and dementia.
Therefore, by consuming antioxidants you can attempt to neutralize free radicals. Some of the benefits of antioxidants include a lower risk of cancer, slower aging, longer life, detoxification, healthy skin and many more. Read on, to find out about 10 antioxidant rich foods you need to be reaching for on your next trip to the supermarket.
1. Wild Blueberries
Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants. How do we know? Due to a lab test called the ORAC, or the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, performed by USDA researcher named Ronald Prior, Ph.D. He found from his results that a cup of wild blueberries has more TAC (Total Antioxidant Capacity) when compared to other fruits like cranberries, plums, raspberries and even strawberries.
As a matter of fact, wild blueberries have twice the antioxidant power of ordinary blueberries. So, what will that result in? Well, it will can enhance your ability to fight diseases and promotes healthy aging. That’s not all, it also contains a plethora of other health benefits. Blueberries can help with weight loss, neutralize free radicals, reduce severity of allergies and also help with age related memory loss.
Cranberries are another super healthy berry rich in antioxidants. Wondering how effective are cranberries? Well, one a cupful of cranberries contains 8,983 total antioxidant capacity. And for the another health benefit, their effectiveness in treating a UTI is no joke. Moreover, cranberries help patients who have kidney stones too. A study conducted in 2008 found that cranberries have the highest phenol content. Phenols are a disease fighting antioxidant which can also help in heart disease conditions.
3. Brewed Coffee
Didn’t see that one coming, did you now? Brewed coffee is a beverage that help you get off of your bed and also give you a much required boost in the morning. Brewed coffee is also popular for some of its health benefits. It turns out that coffee offers so more than that! It also provides antioxidants according to a study published by Monash University.
Raspberries are a another great source of antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants include Vitamin C, gallic acid and quercetin. These are well known for their ability in fighting against cancer, diseases of the heart and some other age related diseases. Moreover, raspberries are a good source of ellagic acid, known for its chemo-preventive properties.
Pecans have an abundant source of antioxidants. Did you use pecans as a pie filling and didn’t think much of it? Well, now is the time to change your opinion on these tree nuts. Pecans are an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps in preventing damage to cells and helps strengthen the immune system. Also, pecans are a good source of fats -the good ones- which will help keep your circulatory system healthy and help with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, they have components like magnesium that will make your bones stronger and phytosterols that will fight to help keep your cholesterol levels low.
6. Artichoke Hearts
Artichoke hearts are another great source of antioxidants. They contains quercetin, a flavonoid, that has anti-carcinogen properties and anthocyanin pigments that will help protect you from a myriad of diseases. There is obviously more to artichokes than that. They also contain rutin which helps contribute to your vascular health and contains anti-inflammatory as well as anti-allergenic properties.
In addition, gallic acid found in artichokes inhibits cell proliferation. On the other hand, polyphenol antioxidants in artichokes helps normalize cholesterol levels. On top of that, these vegetables also contains caffeic and chlorogenic acid that comprise of antiviral, antimicrobial as well as anti-carcinogenic properties.
Blackberries score high on the ORAC scale. The rich source of antioxidants in this food helps improve cardiovascular health and also can help prevent cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
So, what do blackberries contain that make them so healthy? For one, they contain micronutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, selenium and niacin. Blackberries also contain polyphenolic compounds like anthocyanins, tannins, ellagic acid, quercetin, cyanidins, ellagitannins and gallic acid. Blackberries are profuse in carotenoids which can help enhance eye health.
Walnuts have a high rank among foods of antioxidant strength. The nutritional values of these nuts shouldn’t be underestimated. Findings show that there are several benefits of walnuts when consumed whole, with skin and all. The skin contains 90% of the phenols; including other important phenolic acids, flavonoids and tannins.
Now, let’s take a look at the Vitamin E content of walnuts. Vitamin E is generally present in the alpha-tocopherol form. However, in walnuts this vitamin is present in the form gamma-tocopherol. This helps in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. To boot, let us dazzle you with more stats and figures. Researchers’ reports show that, on a daily average, a person who consume nuts take in 5g more fiber, 73 mg more calcium, 260 mg more potassium, 95 mg more magnesium, 157 mg less sodium and 3.7 mg more vitamin compared to a person who does not consume nuts.
Kale is quite popular in this day and age, especially after the introduction of healthy green smoothies. It is a key component in green smoothies due to its abundant levels of antioxidants. So, what are the antioxidants present? To name a few, you can find Vitamin A, Vitamin C and lutein. This powerhouse green leaf veggie contains most of your Vitamin A and Vitamin C needs that you should consume on a daily basis.
Cantaloupe is loaded with powerful antioxidants. It consists of many poly-phenolic plant derived compounds and minerals needed to maintain optimum health. This fruit is a good source of Vitamin A which is a key component in maintaining healthy vision. Moreover, the fruit is a good source of flavonoids that will help neutralize any free radicals in the body which helps with defending oneself from many types of cancers.
In conclusion, antioxidants can actively protect cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals thereby reducing the risk of contracting diseases. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet that contains a variety of fruits and vegetables will cover the daily recommended doses of antioxidants and may improve your help.