Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons that travel around the body looking for an electron to steal for themselves. The reason they lost an electron is due to oxidation. If the stress from oxidation starts messing with cells related to DNA then it can spell disaster. Diseases such as stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer have all been linked to oxidative stress and effects of free radicals.
The world of antioxidants is seemingly never-ending. Though, the most common compounds you would have heard of include vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene. Antioxidants helps to protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules – free radicals. Antioxidants prevents oxidation inside the body by suplying electrons to the free radicals to make them complete again. In addition, antioxidants helps to repair cell damage caused by free radicals.
This doesn’t mean that you can eat antioxidant rich foods and live forever but it does mean that you’re far better off with them than having diets without them. In addition, foods rich in antioxidants tend to be rich also in minerals and vitamins, healthy to the body in many other ways.
Here is are 7 best antioxidant-rich foods you should include in your diet.
Firstly, dark green vegetables are a great source of not only antioxidants but other useful compounds, too. Foods such as kale, brussel sprouts, spinach and broccoli are rich in vitamin A, C, E and calcium.
Prunes, also are incredibly rich in antioxidants bringing in a huge antioxidant capacity per serving size (half cup) of 7,291. Their non-dried predecessor, plums carry 4,873 which isn’t as much but still a high amount. Other great dried foods are raisins with 2,490 antioxidants per serving.
Many fruit are fantastic source of antioxidants, especially berries. Wild blueberries manage to pack a whopping 13,427 antioxidants per cup! Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are also all great sources.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of both vitamin A and calcium, more so than their white counterpart. You’ll also find that butternut squash and other orange foods such as carrots are equally rich in vitamin A. Oranges, too, are a good source of beta-cryptoxanthin which has been linked to lower levels of arthritis.
Grapes, concord grapes in particular, are one of the highest fruit sources of antioxidants around and have been linked to a reduced rate of heart disease. Aim for the red and darker variety for more benefits.
Melatonin is an antioxidant which you can find in high amounts in cherries. The Montmorency variety contains the highest amount and also helps to protect the skin from UV radiation.
Lastly, beetroots are packed full of beneficial substances such as vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium, as well as thousands of antioxidants. There’s even research to suggest that they help with aerobic performance which is great for those who engage in regular and intense exercise.
If you really like to learn more about the antioxidant content of some of the common foods, here is a list of total antioxidant capacity per serving size of many popular foods according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Small Red Bean – dried (13,727)
Wild blueberry (13,427)
Red kidney bean – dried (13,259)
Pinto bean (11,864)
Artichoke – cooked (7,904)
Red Delicious apple (5,900)
Granny Smith apple (5,381)
Sweet cherry (4,873)
Black plum (4,844)
Russet potato – cooked (4,649)
Black bean – dried (4,181)
Gala apple (3,903)
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