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The Best Healthy Antioxidant Foods

The Best Healthy Antioxidant Foods

Key points


  • Antioxidants are important compounds that can be included in our daily diet. These components help to fight free radicals, as well as counter cell damage and reduce harmful effects caused by free radicals, including oxidative stress and DNA damage.
  • The best food sources of antioxidants are spirulina, artichokes, garlic, broccoli, red cabbage, tomatoes, beets, kale, spinach, red pepper and different orange vegetables.
  • Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and goji berries also have a high antioxidant content. Other sources of antioxidants include grapes, walnuts, peanuts, and dark chocolate.

Antioxidants are compounds that our bodies naturally produce to prevent cell damage and degeneration caused by free radicals - harmful molecules that cause oxidative stress and DNA damage.

Oxidative stress can result in many dangerous diseases. Some of them are heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Luckily, there are lots of sources of antioxidants and including them in your diet can boost the antioxidant levels in the blood, which will help prevent oxidative stress and the diseases that come along with it. 

Keep on reading to discover the best food sources that will help you get your daily dose of antioxidants. You can also read our article on the best antioxidant drinks

Spirulina 

Spirulina is a type of blue green algae (cyanobacteria) known for its high nutrient content. Spirulina contains a lot of protein and vital vitamins, and it’s also loaded with antioxidants. This superfood offers many health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. In addition, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and improve immune system functioning. 

Studies have also indicated that antioxidants (chlorophyll and phycocyanin) in spirulina can help increase the production of antibodies and help prevent many diseases, including cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, atherosclerosis, and hypertension. Additionally, these studies have shown that andioxidants in spirulina fight free radicals and prevent skeletal muscle damage after exercise-induced oxidative stress. Moreover, they’ve shot that spirulina’s properties help normalize blood lipid levels and lower blood pressure.

Spirulina comes in a powder or tablet form, but the powder form is more common to use. Spirulina powder can be dissolved in hot water or tea or added to drinks and meals. The easiest way to take spirulina is in the form of a delicious and healthy fizzy drink, such as sparkling spirulina drinks by FUL®. These come in a variety of flavours and provide you with all the antioxidants you need.

Try Sparkling Spirulina Drink

 

Pecans

Pecans are a great source of antioxidants, and they also contain a lot of healthy fats and minerals.

Research shows that pecans can help raise antioxidant levels in the blood. For example, one study has found that people who were getting 20% of their daily calorie intake from pecans showed significantly increased blood antioxidant levels.

Other studies have confirmed that consuming pecans can significantly lower oxidized blood LDL levels and high levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol that is associated with heart disease. However, keep in mind that pecans contain a lot of healthy fats, which means they are high in calories, so it’s best to eat them in moderation.

Blueberries

Blueberries are low-calorie products packed with antioxidants and vital nutrients. Research shows that blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants among all fruits and vegetables (still significantly lower than Spirulina). Animal studies also suggest that antioxidants found in blueberries may improve brain function and slow down brain decline associated with age. In addition, these antioxidants are thought to destroy free radicals, prevent inflammation and change the expression of certain genes. 

Moreover, blueberries contain anthocyanins - a type of antioxidants that are responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease as well as maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Raspberries

Raspberries are tart berries, a common and tasty addition to any dessert. They are packed with vitamin C, dietary fibre, manganese, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that antioxidants present in raspberries can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

One test-tube study confirmed that these antioxidants and other nutrients found in raspberries destroyed 90% of cancer cells present in the stomach, colon, and breasts. Another meta-review of several studies found that raspberries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can delay and alleviate the effects of different cancers. However, more research is needed to fully confirm these results.

Raspberries are also packed with anthocyanins. These antioxidants can lower inflammation and help with oxidative stress, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is not only a tasty snack but also a nutritious one! Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than regular chocolate, which means more minerals and antioxidants. For instance, dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. This exceeds the amount of antioxidants in blueberries and raspberries. 

Chocolate’s antioxidative properties have been studied in relation to many health benefits, including alleviating inflammation and reducing risk factors associated with heart disease. Several studies have concluded that consuming cocoa lowers high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease. 

Strawberries

Strawberries are well-known for their high vitamin C levels, but they are also rich in antioxidants, containing up to 5.4 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Just like blueberries, strawberries contain anthocyanins, which give these berries their vibrant red colour.

Anthocyanins have been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raise “good” HDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.  

Goji Berries

Goji berries or wolfberries are the dried fruits of Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense. These berries have potent medicinal properties, and they are packed with many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Goji berries are commonly added to different supplements because of their ability to slow down cell aging, maintain eye health, and strengthen the liver, kidneys, and lungs.

In addition, Goji berries contain a unique antioxidant - Lycium barbarum polysaccharide. This compound is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and it can help slow down skin aging. This food can also help raise blood antioxidant levels.

Purple or Red Grapes

If you’re looking for a rich source of vitamin C, grapes are the way to go! They are packed with vitamin C, selenium, and antioxidants like anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin. These types of antioxidants have been studied for their potential for protecting the body against heart disease and cancer. However, more research is needed.

Artichokes

Artichokes are another great source of antioxidants, dietary fibre, and minerals. This vegetable provides up to 4.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Plus, it contains a vital antioxidant called chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is claimed to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer

Interestingly, the artichokes’ antioxidant content varies depending on how you prepare them. If you boil or steam artichokes, the antioxidant content can increase by eight or fifteen times! At the same time, frying significantly reduces their antioxidant content.

Kale

Kale belongs to a vegetable group cultivated from Brassica oleracea. It belongs to the same group as broccoli and cauliflower and is among the most nutrient-packed greens. Kale contains vital vitamins such as vitamin A, K, and C. Consuming kale also supplies a sufficient amount of antioxidants to the body. But the antioxidant content can vary depending on the type of kale you consume.

Kale is also a storehouse of calcium, which is important for maintaining bone health as well as heart, muscle, and nerve function.

Broccoli 

Just like other leafy vegetables, broccoli is full of nutrients. It contains phenolics - a group of chemicals that plants produce in order to protect them against oxidative stress. Humans can benefit from phenolics, too, since they have potent antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. In addition, phenolics can aid with protection against disease, inflammation, and allergies.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage or purple cabbage is another nutrient-packed green full of vitamins C, K, and A. Red cabbage contains many vital antioxidants, and its antioxidant content is four times greater than that of regular cabbage. 

This vegetable also contains anthocyanins, which give the cabbage its colour and help to alleviate inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Red cabbage is rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and improve skin health. Just like with many foods, the antioxidant content depends on how you prepare red cabbage. Boiling and stir-frying red cabbage increase the antioxidant profile, while steaming it lowers its antioxidant content by almost 35%.

Beets

Beets or beetroot are a great source of fibre, antioxidants, and minerals such as iron, potassium, and folate.

Beets provide up to 1.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams, but they are especially well-known for containing betalains - antioxidants that have been studied for their ability to lower the risk of cancer in the colon and the digestive tract.

Other compounds found in beets can alleviate inflammation. Plus, one research study has provided evidence that consuming betalain capsules made from beetroot extract helps with the pain associated with osteoarthritis and inflammation.

Beans

Beans are the most affordable legumes, and they have an incredibly high nutrient profile. They contain a lot of fibre and are one of the best vegetable sources of antioxidants (beans have up to 2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams). 

Some types of beans, including pinto beans, are rich in an antioxidant known as kaempferol. This antioxidant has been proven to help with chronic inflammation and prevent cancer tumour growth.

Animal studies concluded that kaempferol might prevent the growth of cancerous tumours in the breast, kidneys, bladder, and lungs, but more human research is needed.

Spinach

Spinach is another nutrient-dense vegetable. It’s a low-calorie product that’s very high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Spinach also contains a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin - vital antioxidants that protect the eyes from UV light. These antioxidants maintain eye health and help combat damage caused by free radicals over time.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which belongs to a group of antioxidants called carotenoids. Raw tomatoes contain plenty of thуse antioxidants, but you can also explore your options and either turn them into a sauce or use them to make tomato juice.

Garlic

Raw garlic contains allicin - one of the main active compounds found in this food, which gives it its taste and smell. Allicin has been shown to relieve inflammation and destroy free radicals. Like many other antioxidants, it prevents heart disease by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. It may even prevent certain types of cancer. 

However, it’s important to consume garlic in moderate amounts because it can cause digestive issues and change your breath and body odour.

Red Pepper

Bell peppers are another excellent source of antioxidants, but red bell peppers have the highest antioxidant content. They contain carotenoids which have potent anti-cancer properties. If you want to get all the necessary antioxidants in your diet, opt for raw red peppers. You can include them in your salads or just eat them as a snack.

Walnuts

When it comes to the antioxidant content, walnuts are unmatched by other types of nuts. They contain lots of polyphenols, and you only need to consume a small amount of these nuts to get all the health benefits. Roasting walnuts lowers their antioxidant properties, so it’s better to consume them in a raw form.

Orange Vegetables

Orange vegetables are usually packed with vitamin A and other vital nutrients. These vegetables are also loaded with phytochemicals - antioxidants known for helping with heart disease and cancer prevention. These vegetables include sweet potatoes, acorn squash, carrots, and butternut squash.

Sweet potatoes contain lots of beta-carotene, which explains their orange hue. This antioxidant has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties, and it can prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. Keep in mind that carb-filled potatoes can raise sugar levels in the blood, so it’s recommended not to overindulge in sweet potatoes.

Oats

Oats are another antioxidant-rich food that you should consider including in your diet. Antioxidants contained in oats may ease chronic inflammation as a result of heart disease and diabetes. Oats are also rich in soluble fibre, which helps you to feel full for a longer time and slows digestion. That’s why oats are recommended for many healthy weight-loss diets. 

FAQ

What foods are high in antioxidants?

Spirulina is a popular superfood that’s extremely high in antioxidants. Other vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, and potatoes also contain a lot of antioxidants, and so do artichokes, beetroot, squash, pumpkin, and collard greens. A single FUL® Sparkling Spirulina drink has the equivalent antioxidants of 60 blueberries!

What is the best antioxidant?

There’s no one best antioxidant. Antioxidants are a group of molecules that can help prevent cell and DNA damage, fight free radicals, etc. If you want to get the most benefits from antioxidants, you should try to consume a rich and well-balanced diet. You can also supplement your food intake with spirulina, which is one of the best food sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants in spirulina promote the production of antibodies and prevent a number of serious diseases such as heart failure, cardiac hypertrophy, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.

What drinks are high in antioxidants?

Spirulina drinks, green tea, coffee, matcha, coconut water, beet and pomegranate juice are the best sources of antioxidants.

How can I increase my antioxidant intake?

If you want to increase your daily antioxidant intake, try to include products like spirulina, vegetables, berries, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains in your diet. These products provide an essential amount of vital nutrients as well as antioxidants.

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