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6 Foods Rich in Antioxidants that Fight Free Radicals

By Edited May 17, 2016 1 0
6 Foods Rich in Antioxidants that Fight Free-Radicals
Credit: Opensource

When the body converts food to energy, it produces by-products known as free radicals which can be very damaging to cells. The only defense that the human body has is nutrients in certain foods called antioxidants which can slow the damage, or even prevent it in our cells by enhancing our natural immunity.

Most people have heard of some antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin C, but those are just a few of the essential nutrients the human body needs.

Other antioxidants you may or may not be familiar with are nutrients called Carotenoids, Selenium, Flavonoids, Lycopene, Lutein and  Lignan just to name a few.[1]

There are certain types of natural foods that are high in one or more of these nutrients. Unfortunately, most people do not eat enough of these foods on a daily basis because they are inconvenient or they have been conditioned in this modern world to think of food as instantaneous and quick.

Here is a list of 10 of the foods highest in antioxidants and some suggestions of how you can get more of them in your diet.

Blueberries

Blueberries for Health
Credit: Adria via Wikimedia Commons

Blueberries are considered by many researchers to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet and provide many health benefits. If there is a perfect food, this may be it.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, B, C, E, Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Iron.[2] All of these nutrients work to neutralize free radicals in the body that lead to inflammation and disease.

Researchers believe they may improve memory and aid with overall mental health as we age.[2]

One of the easiest ways to get more blueberries in your diet is to combine them with other fruits or vegetables in a smoothie. They are also great when they are frozen and mixed in with plain Greek yogurt.

Goji berries

Goji Berries
Credit: Pvt pauline via Wikimedia Commons

You may not have heard of Goji berries but they are one of those super foods that have been lost to the modern world.  I bought my first bag several months ago. If you like gummy bears, then you will love these, and you can eat them guilt free.

Goji berries are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin which help fight the free radicals that cause degenerative eye disease as well as overall aging of the body.[6]

Goji berries also the body’s natural production of human growth hormone which is critical for repairing damaged cells.

Goji berries are great as snacks and they taste great. It is one of the easiest super foods to get into your diet.

Healthworks Certified Organic Goji Berries, 16 Ounce
Amazon Price: $17.99 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2016)

Strawberries

Strawberries for Health
Credit: Hlaraf via Wikimedia Commons

Strawberries contain antioxidant called anthocyanins which give them their red pigment. They are also extremely high in Vitamin C. Less than a cup of strawberries will give you 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.[4]

Strawberries also contain fisetin which is a flavonoid that has been shown to improve memory.[4]

Most people enjoy strawberries alone as a snack or in Yogurt. One of the easiest ways to include them in your daily diet is to add one or two in with your smoothie to stay healthy and get the benefits from strawberries. They are a great flavor balance to the green vegetable taste of kale or spinach.

Green Tea

Green Tea Leaves
Credit: Wathriotu via Wikimedia Commons

You may have heard a lot about green tea over the years. Compared with other teas, it is one of the healthiest choices. A daily cup or two can help with allergies because of its anti-histamine properties.[5]

Green tea has an antioxidants called catechins which have been shown in studies to fight cancerous cells in the body by interfering with tumor cells' repair of DNA after chemotherapy.[5]  It has also been shown to aid in preventing skin damage from the sun when the skin is exposed to the UV rays.

One of the best ways to incorporate green tea into your diet is to begin the day with a cup along with your morning coffee.

Cacoa

6 Foods Rich in Antioxidants that Fight Free-Radicals
Credit: mjpyro

That commercial brand chocolate bar that we are so familiar with starts with one of the best foods on the planet. Pure cacoa powder contains antioxidants called flavanoids which helps the body produce more nitric oxide for a healthier heart.[3]

Although cacoa is one of the best sources of antioxidants but you should look for the pure powder rather than a Hershey bar. Commercial chocolate has very little actual cacoa and is loaded with sugar.

And when cacoa is combined with dairy products, it loses all of its benefits.

You can buy 100% Cacoa chocolate bars in many grocery stores, however, they are very bitter and most people will have a hard time eating them on a regular basis.

The easiest method to get cacoa into your diet is to consume the raw powder which can be added to almost anything.

Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder, 1 lb
Amazon Price: $10.25 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2016)

Chia Seeds

6 Foods Rich in Antioxidants that Fight Free Radicals
Credit: mjpyro

One of the most important foods you should have in your diet are Chia seeds. They have many health benefits and have increased in popularity in recent years. They have more antioxidants than Blueberries, and more Omega-3s than Flax seeds.[1]

The primary source of  Omega-3s in most people’s diet is fish, however it is not practical to eat fish every day for most Americans. And for others, they simply do not like the smell or taste of fish. The good news is that Chia seeds are actually a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than fish.

Chia seeds can also help in weight loss because of their water absorption property. When exposed to water, they swell making you feel fuller longer so you can avoid some of the destructive binging on snacks in between meals.

Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Chia Seeds, 1 Pound Pouches
Amazon Price: $10.98 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2016)

Summary

There are many other fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Typically, the more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the better. The bright colors indicate lutein and lycopene although color is not the only clue for finding food rich in antioxidants. Most leafy green veggies are super foods that you should try to eat at least once day.

It is best to get these nutrients into your body from natural foods rather than supplements. There in conflicting evidence, but more and more research is showing that taking supplements does not really help. 

The only supplements I take every day are Vitamin D3 and Biotin. However, I stopped taking a multi vitamin last year and rely solely on smoothies of kale and spinach, among other things, to get my vitamin boost every day.

Whatever method you choose, if you want to live a longer and healthier life, eat more foods rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals. Eating healthier will cost more money but you have to weigh that against the potential health issues you will face down the road if you continue to eat the typical American diet.

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Bibliography

  1. "Chia Seeds: Ancient Superfood of the Aztecs and Mayans." Antioxidants for Health and Longevity. 5/05/2014 <Web >
  2. "Blueberries." Worlds Healthiest Foods. 5/05/2014 <Web >
  3. "Dark Chocolate Can Pack a Big Antioxidant Wallop." Prevention. 5/05/2014 <Web >
  4. "The 6 Best High Antioxidant Fruits." Fitday. 5/05/2014 <Web >
  5. "Benefit of drinking green tea: The proof is in -- drinking tea is healthy." Harvard Health Publications. 5/05/2014 <Web >
  6. "Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects." WebMD. 5/05/2014 <Web >

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