The purpose of antioxidants is to protect your body from damage caused by harmful free radical molecules. Without antioxidants, those free radicals can damage cells and many experts believe that damage can lead to various diseases including cancer.
So how to do you combat free radicals? Well, one of the best ways is eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods. These include vitamins C and E, certain minerals like selenium, and flavonoids. You can also take antioxidant supplements, although research has shown it’s best to rely primarily on whole foods instead.
The Benefits Of Antioxidants
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Some antioxidants like vitamin C have been found to protect against heart disease. They do this by reducing “bad” cholesterol in your blood.
Improves Cognitive Health
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They help maintain your vascular health, thus repairing neurons and preventing age-related cognitive decline. There have also been studies showing that vitamin E can help ward off depression.
Free radical damage has been linked to cancer, and antioxidants help prevent said damage. Although there are some conflicting studies out there, many health professionals agree that eating foods high in antioxidants can help prevent cancer. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, ask your doctor if antioxidant-rich foods or supplements could aid in your treatment plan.
Free radicals cause cell damage and inflammation, which can lead to wrinkles and more age spots. As antioxidants counter the effect of free radicals, they can help slow the aging process and add more youthful years to your life.
7 High Antioxidant Foods
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, one of the most prevalent antioxidants. Plus, strawberries contain a specific type of antioxidant called anthocyanin that gives the fruit its red color and helps lower “bad” cholesterol.
In addition to being a great source of fiber, artichokes are also high in antioxidants. Artichokes are high in an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which some studies have shown can reduce the risk of certain cancers and diabetes. To ensure you’re getting the most nutrient value from artichokes, it’s recommended you boil or steam them instead of deep-frying.
High in vitamins K, A, and C, red cabbage really is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can buy. Red cabbage contains the same antioxidant found in strawberries, anthocyanin.
Beans are one of the best vegetable sources of antioxidants. Plus they’re high in fiber, which can help keep your digestive system running smoothly.
Many dietitians would argue that spinach is a true superfood, and is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can buy at the supermarket. Spinach is a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help protect your eyes from harmful UV light.
These small red berries are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In one study, healthy elderly people consumed a goji berry drink every day for 90 days. By the end of the study, their bodies antioxidant levels had risen by 57%.
The problem with goji berries is that despite their increasing popularity, you can’t find them at every grocery store. Plus, they’re expensive when compared to other high-antioxidant berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
While high in calories (like most nuts), pecans are packed with healthy fats and antioxidants. Those healthy fats help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients more easily. Studies have shown that eating pecans can reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood.