Taking back Our Health with Foods High In Antioxidants
We all want to be healthy, and becoming healthy isn’t a punishment. We need to watch what we eat and drink and stay away from boxed foods and go back to organic locally grown fresh-picked foods.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body that are mostly found in plant-based foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
When free radicals accumulate, this can cause a state known as oxidative stress. This can cause damage to your DNA and other important structures in your cells.
What Are The Different Types Of Antioxidants?
There are thousands of different compounds that can act as antioxidants. Each compound has its own function and can interact with other compounds to help each other effectively.
“Antioxidant” is not the name of a substance, it describes what the substances can do.
A list of examples of antioxidants that come from plant-based foods;
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly. There are two different types of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type, provitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. The most common type of provitamin A in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene.
- vitamin C
Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect DNA and other cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, toxic foods, and other chemicals like cleaners, and ultraviolet light from the sun. The human body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.
- vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun. The body needs vitamin E to boost its immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them. Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many important functions.
A carotenoid found in carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, mangos, collard greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, and other oranges, red, and dark green fruits and vegetables.
Selenium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Selenium is important for reproduction, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection.
Manganese is a mineral that your body needs to stay healthy. Your body uses manganese to make energy and protect your cells from damage. Your body needs manganese for strong bones, reproduction, blood clotting, and a healthy immune system.
Flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens are all types of antioxidants and phytonutrients, these are mostly found in plant-based foods.
Each antioxidant serves a different function and is not interchangeable with another. This is why it is important to have a varied diet.
Another forgotten antioxidant is vitamin D3 which can come in form of foods or sunlight for 10 minutes a day and is extremely essential for optimal health;
Benefits of Vitamin D3 are;
- Helps to create strong bones
- improves skin health
- healthy muscles
- improves diabetes
- prevents influenza
- prevents heart decease
- autoimmune disorders
- prevents depression
- reduces cholesterol and triglycerides
- helps with weight loss
Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that are needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium (one of bone’s main building blocks) from food and supplements.
Vitamin D is extremely important to the body in many other ways as well. Muscles need it to move, for example, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
What Is Oxydation?
Oxidation is the chemical reaction that occurs during transfers of electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidative agent.
Oxidative stress or reaction can produce free radicals, which can cause inflammation in the body and many unhappy, disease-causing reactions.
This chain reaction can cause damage/death to your DNA cells and other cells.
What Do Antioxidants Do?
Antioxidants can stop this chain reaction that causes damage and death to the cells by removing the free radical intermediates and inhibit oxidative reactions.
The antioxidants do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants act as a reducing agent.
The excess production of oxidation is referred to as oxidative stress and is thought to play a significant role in the development of strokes, heart attacks, neurological disorders, and different kinds of cancers.
The great thing about food high in antioxidants is that this protects you from free radicals and DNA from getting damaged and it even reverses any damage free radicals have caused to your body.
One of the ways to stay healthy is to eat good organic plant-based foods like wild fish, nuts, seeds, organic grass-fed beef, or buffalo. But eating like this can sometimes be difficult with all these fast-food restaurants and busy lifestyles.
Foods High in antioxidants
1. Cocoa (Dark Chocolate)
For all the chocolate lovers out there, dark chocolate is extremely nutritious and delicious. It contains more cocoa than regular chocolate and has more minerals and antioxidants because it’s less processed.
According to the FRAP analysis, dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces. That is more than blueberries and raspberries, which contain up to 9.2 and 2.3 mmol of antioxidants in the same serving size, respectively (Source).
The review of 10 studies looked at the link between cocoa intake and blood pressure in both healthy people and those with high blood pressure.
Consuming dark chocolate reduced the systolic blood pressure (the upper value) by an average of 4.5 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by an average of 2.5 mmHg (Source).
Another study found out that dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease by raising blood antioxidant levels, raising levels of HDL cholesterol, and preventing LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized (Source).
Oxidized LDL cholesterol is harmful because it promotes inflammation in the blood vessels, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease (Source).
Blueberries are very low in calories and are full of nutrients and antioxidants, they are great in oatmeal and other desserts or just to snack on.
- Calories: 57
- Water: 84%
- Protein: 0.7 grams
- Carbs: 14.5 grams
- Sugar: 10 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Manganese: 25% of the RDI
According to the FRAP study, blueberries have up to 9.2 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
Research from test-tube and animal studies has shown that the antioxidants in blueberries delay the decline in brain function that tends to happen with age (Source).
Researchers have suggested that the antioxidants in blueberries can be responsible for this effect. They are thought to do this by neutralizing harmful free radicals, reducing inflammation, and changing the expression of certain genes (Source).
Additionally, the antioxidants in blueberries, especially a type called anthocyanins, have been shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease, lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure (Source).
Raspberries are tart that is often used in desserts. They contain a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants.
Based on a FRAP analysis, raspberries have up to 4 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
Several studies have linked the antioxidants and other components in raspberries to lower risks of cancer and heart disease.
One test-tube study found that the antioxidants and other components in raspberries killed 90% of the stomach, colon, and breast cancer cells in the sample (Source).
A review of five studies concluded that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of black raspberries can slow down and suppress the effects of a variety of cancers (Source).
That said, most of the evidence for the health benefits of raspberries is from test-tube studies. More research in humans is needed before recommendations can be made.
Kale is a delicious cruciferous vegetable and a member of the group of vegetables cultivated from the species Brassica oleracea. Other members include broccoli and cauliflower.
Kale is one of the most nutritious greens on the planet and is high in vitamins A, K, and C. It is high in antioxidants, providing up to 2.7 mmol per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
However, red varieties of kale such as redbor and red Russian kale contains almost twice as much — up to 4.1 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (Source).
This is because red varieties of kale contain more anthocyanin antioxidants as well as several other antioxidants that give them their vibrant color.
Kale is a great plant-based source of calcium, an important mineral that helps maintain bone health and plays roles in other cellular functions (Source).
9. Red Cabbage
Red cabbage has an impressive nutrient profile. Red Cabbage is known as purple cabbage, it is rich in vitamins C, K, and A, and has a high antioxidant content.
According to a FRAP analysis, red cabbage provides up to 2.2 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
That’s more than four times the amount of antioxidants in regular cooked cabbage (Source).
This is because red cabbage contains anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that give red cabbage its color. Anthocyanins are found in strawberries and raspberries.
These anthocyanins have been linked to several health benefits. They reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, and reduce the risk of certain cancers (Source).
Interestingly, the way red cabbage is prepared can affect its antioxidant levels.
Boiling and stir-frying red cabbage boost its antioxidant profile while steaming red cabbage reduces its antioxidant content by almost 35% (Source).
Beans are a diverse group of legumes that are inexpensive and healthy. They are incredibly high in fiber, which can help keep your bowel movements regular.
Beans are one of the best vegetable sources of antioxidants. A FRAP analysis found that green broad beans contain up to 2 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
Some beans such as pinto beans contain a particular antioxidant called kaempferol. This antioxidant has been linked to impressive health benefits, such as reduced chronic inflammation and suppressed cancer growth (Source, Source).
However, because most of the research supporting the benefits of kaempferol has been in animals or test tubes, more human-based studies are needed.
Beets, known as beetroot, are the roots of a vegetable scientifically known as Beta vulgaris. They have a mild taste and are a great source of fiber, potassium, iron, folate, and antioxidants.
Based on a FRAP analysis, beets contain up to 1.7 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
They’re particularly rich in a group of antioxidants called betalains. These give beets their reddish color and have been linked to health benefits.
Additionally, beets contain other compounds that help suppress inflammation. For example, a study found that taking betalain capsules made from beetroot extract significantly relieved osteoarthritis pain and inflammation (Source).
Spinach is one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and is incredibly low in calories.
Based on a FRAP analysis, spinach provides up to 0.9 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (Source).
These antioxidants help combat damage to the eyes that free radicals cause over time.
Summary Spinach is rich in nutrients, high in antioxidants and low in calories. It is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which defend the eyes from free radicals.
What Is Turmeric, And What Does It Do?
Turmeric is an root herb that has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is one of the most studied herbal ingredients today. Its therapeutic potential and active constituents have been noted in peer-reviewed scientific articles for years! Due to its anti-inflamatory properties, Turmeric is well-known in traditional herbal medicine.
Turmeric is believed to be native to Southern India and Indonesia.
In these parts of the world, turmeric has been used for thousands of years and has become an integral part of their food and traditional medicine.
Turmeric has a special place in Indian tradition and worship too. It is used to worship the Sun God. It is also worn by people as a part of the purification process.
The usage of turmeric in India is very very old and its usage is documented in various forms.
It was used as a beauty aid, spice, and medicine – an all-in-one herb with amazing properties. It is thus not surprising that turmeric has such a place in ancient Indian medical science – Ayurveda.
Turmeric has not only been used by Indians, but it was also used by Buddhist monks which traveled to various parts of the world to die their robes.
There is also evidences that turmeric was used as a part of Chinese medicine around 1,000 years ago.
Turmeric was not part of the western world untill recently.
There have been only a few pieces of evidence stating its usage and importance in Europe. One of the key mentions about turmeric in western civilization was by Marco Polo (1280) – he says that he found a plant that has all qualities of saffron but is a root.
While turmeric has always been an important part of the Ayurvedic system, western herbalists did not recognize its benefits till the late 20th century.
But by the mid 20th century, turmeric started gaining popularity in the western world too. Today there are numerous research studies and experiments done to identify its benefits.
Turmeric is also an extremely delicious seasoning and one of the foods high in antioxidants!
We can reverse diseases by increasing antioxidant intake. For this reason, I wanted to write about foods high in antioxidants. Please feel free to leave a comment below.