The Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet
We know antioxidants are important, and that foods with antioxidants are generally considered healthy. But what, exactly, are antioxidants… and how do make sure we’re getting enough of them?
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of antioxidants, along with some of our favorite antioxidant-rich foods to add to your diet.
The word “antioxidant” gets thrown around quite a bit in the world of health and wellness. Maybe it’s enough for you to know that “antioxidant” is practically synonymous with “good;” maybe you would prefer to gain a better understanding of what’s going on in your body.
Either way, let’s start with the basics.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals. Some are produced in our bodies, but most are found in foods.
When you consume foods with antioxidants, they help to defend the body against free radicals.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are unstable atoms that break down cells over time; they are byproducts of metabolism that occur in our bodies, or as a result of environmental factors such as smoke, chemicals, and air pollution.
Free radicals damage the body’s cells, leading to oxidative stress.
What is Oxidative Stress?
When free radicals build up in the blood, they create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and more. In fact, oxidative stress is a significant contributor to one’s risk of developing chronic disease.
Long story short: antioxidants protect our cells and reduce our risk of chronic disease and other health issues.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of vitamins and minerals that can act as antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese, to name a few.
Because each antioxidant can affect our bodies differently, it’s important to get your nutrients from a variety of food sources. As the adage goes, “eat the rainbow.”
Some antioxidant-rich foods to add to your diet include (but are not limited to):
Many fruits are high in antioxidants, not to mention a variety of other health-boosting nutrients. Antioxidant-rich fruits include:
- Purple or red grapes
It’s no secret that vegetables are healthy… as if anyone needed an excuse to eat more veggies!
Antioxidant-rich vegetables include:
- Red cabbage
- Leafy greens
- Orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are a great addition to practically any dish. Along with bringing an added flavor boost, many are also packed with antioxidants.
Not seeing your favorite ingredients? Don’t worry—this is hardly an exhaustive list!
Nuts and Legumes
These plant-based foods are also packed with antioxidants, making for a healthy, tasty snack:
- Macadamia nuts
Of course, we can’t forget about beans—particularly black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans.
Sweets and Treats
Need a cup of coffee before you can function in the morning? Maybe you enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or a cup of green tea to get you through that afternoon slump, or enjoy winding down in the evening with a glass of red wine or beer.
Guess what? All of those above-mentioned items are full of antioxidants! Just keep in mind that adding milk to coffee can block antioxidants, so it’s best to drink it black.
And, of course, remember that moderation is key.