What are Antioxidants?
As the name suggests, antioxidants act against oxidation in our bodies. Our body has its own endogenous antioxidant defense to counteract oxidation. Glutathione, superoxide dismutase, ferritin, lipoic acid, etc are some of our endogenous antioxidants. There are naturally occurring antioxidants in some foods too. You can either have it directly from their dietary sources or take an antioxidant food supplement. Here, we will be focusing on such exogenous antioxidants.
Why are antioxidants important?
During normal metabolism, our bodies produce free radicals. Free radicals are also produced at a faster pace in alcoholism, smoking, exposure to air pollutants, and in conditions like high blood sugar and body fat. These free radicals can kick start some harmful chain reactions that cause oxidation inside our bodies. In the long run, if not eliminated, it can cause chronic oxidative stress.
This can lead to several degenerative diseases and is the main reason behind aging. Here comes the importance of antioxidants. These powerful molecules fight against harmful free radicals, and thereby protect our bodies. Get your daily dose of these natural miracles from the following foods.
Also Read: What’s the Deal With Antioxidants?
Top Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants
Blueberries are one of the richest sources of natural antioxidants. It’s loaded with a very powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins, belonging to the flavonoid group. These are effective against neural diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, several cancers, diabetes, inflammation, and many other degenerative diseases.
Blueberries also have vaccinium, which is another potent antioxidant that has antimicrobial and anticancer properties. These are also rich in other antioxidants like ellagic acid, vitamin C and A. Blueberries, especially wild blueberries, are the most antioxidant-rich berries. Owing to this, it's one of the predominant ingredients in antioxidant food supplements.
Artichokes are scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol levels, boost immunity, detoxify the liver, protect against cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and supports digestive health too. All these health-promoting benefits come from its superior nutritional profile. It's the main ingredient in super greens supplements, which is a unique mix of green superfoods.
It’s rich in dietary fibers, vitamin C, A, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. Artichoke has some of the strongest natural antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Luteolin, an antioxidant in it, helps to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and spike up good HDL cholesterol.
Whereas, cynarin and silymarin help the regeneration of liver tissues. Furthermore, it also enhances the levels of endogenous antioxidants like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase inside the body despite having its battalion of natural antioxidants.
Also Read: Top 5 Facts About TURNER Super Greens
3. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolates are rich in polyphenols and flavonoids like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins. The potent flavonoids scavenge the oxygen reactive species and boost defense against oxidation. Epicatechins aids in nitric oxide production that helps the tissues, including the endothelium of blood vessels, to be relaxed and pliable. This enhances cardiovascular health.
These antioxidants directly influence insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of diabetes. Apart from this, it supports cognitive functioning, neural health and keeps away inflammation. Topical application can protect skin from oxidative damages from UV rays.
Raspberries are loaded with potent antioxidants like flavonoids, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, ellagic acid, vitamin E, selenium, beta carotenes, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. It optimally supports brain and heart health.
It was scientifically proven to kill around 90% of cancer cells in a study with breast, stomach, and colon cancer cells. These antioxidants are anti-inflammatory as well and thus prevent the development of diabetes, arthritis, and eye-related concerns. Due to its health-promoting effects, it was added into super reds which is a blend of powerful red-colored functional nutrients.
5. Red or purple grapes
Red grapes are a good source of strong antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, resveratrol, quercetin, vitamin C, beta carotenes, ellagic acid, and lutein. The antioxidants are densely packed in the seeds and skin of grapes.
These powerful nutrients remain intact after fermentation and hence red wine holds such a strong antioxidant profile. This prevents cardiovascular diseases, supports brain health, helps to control blood sugar, and fights cancer-causing elements.
Beets are particularly rich in antioxidants called betalains. These are the ones responsible for their characteristic color. It also has other antioxidants like carotenoids, phenols like rutin, epicatechins, and caffeic acid. You aren't a huge fan of beets? That's okay. You can go for a beetroot supplement instead.
Beets have cardioprotective effects, prevent diverticulosis, diabetes, obesity and help to fight cancer specifically, lung, throat, and prostate cancer. It also helps with hepatic disorders and premature aging. These have strong anti-inflammatory effects too, which help with arthritis and boosts immunity.
7. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes come in different colors including yellow, white, purple, and orange. It is a wealth of orange-colored carotenoids. The bioavailability of sweet potato’s beta carotene is shown to be higher than that of green leafy vegetables in some research. Beta carotene is high in the orange variety.
The purple variety has high anthocyanins. Normally, anthocyanins are found in the skin of foods like grapes and berries, but that’s not the case with sweet potatoes. Their flesh is jammed with these antioxidants. Antioxidants in sweet potatoes boost endogenous antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and catalase.
In the digestive tract, it lowers the risk posed by harmful heavy metal contaminants in the food. Even the storage protein in sweet potatoes known as sporamins has significant antioxidant properties.
8. Red cabbage
Red cabbage is rich in several natural antioxidants like beta carotenoids and lutein, vitamin C, A, and K. It provides four times the antioxidants than the regular white cabbage. The predominant antioxidant in red cabbage is anthocyanins which have innumerable health benefits including protection against cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and cancers. Vitamin C in it boosts the immune system and enhances dermal health. It helps to lower bad cholesterol as well.
Salmons, especially, sockeye salmons are on the list due to the presence of a very potent marine antioxidant in them, known as astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is also found in shellfishes, lobsters, and some algae. It lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases by decreasing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
It is antiatherogenic in the sense that it prevents plaque formation in arteries. What’s more, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient and protects skin from UV rays too. If you are not very fond of seafood, opt for a natural astaxanthin supplement to reap its benefits.
Salmons are a good source of high-quality proteins and Omega-3 fats too. These are loaded with selenium, another powerful mineral antioxidant that improves bone health, thyroid function and protects against several cancers.
There you are! Hope this article has given you an insight into how beneficial antioxidant-rich foods are. Try to include an adequate amount of all these in your diet and preserve your greatest wealth – your health! Have any doubts? Comment below.