You’ve probably heard that certain foods contain antioxidants, but do you really know why that’s a good thing? Antioxidants help you reduce aging and maintain your health. Let’s talk about how that occurs, as well as the best sources of antioxidants in food.
What Are The Benefits of Antioxidants?
Antioxidants reduce aging, as we mentioned above. They do this by fighting degenerative illnesses. Incidence of heart disease, cataracts in the eyes, and arthritis are all reduced by a diet high in antioxidants. They are also excellent at keeping your skin, the largest organ in your body, healthy, supple and looking younger. They help joint function, and seem to have a protective role in the fight against cancer.
Antioxidants are effective at reducing free radicals in the body, which reduces oxidative stress. Watch the video below for a detailed explanation of why this is so important for disease prevention.
The most commonly recognized antioxidant is vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the severity of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, helpful for asthma, and preventative for diabetic heart disease, coronary artery disease, and colon cancer.
Herbs Have High Antioxidant Levels
Many people know that fruit is rich in antioxidants, but are not aware of the powerful levels found in some herbs. While herbs contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants by weight, of course we don’t consume large amounts of the. Even still, they’re a flavorful and healthy addition to your diet. Here are some of the most powerful antioxidant herbs:
- Lemon balm
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
Top Antioxidant Foods
Here are 10 great sources of antioxidants in food, in order of strength.
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and other berries contain proanthocyanidins, a type of antioxidant which fights cancer and heart disease. A serving daily in a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal (or just fresh, as a snack) is a healthy choice. Fresh is usually best, but for a dried choice, pick goji berries.
- Walnuts are packed with antioxidants, and also contain protein, fiber, and essential amino acids. Pecans or hazelnuts are also an excellent choice.
- Green tea offers high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. Green tea is helpful against heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer, and also has been proven to help with weight loss and fat reduction.
- Tomatoes are the richest source of a powerful anti-cancer antioxidant that has also proven to be generally associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. The carotenoid lycopene is found in many fruits and vegetables, but tomatoes are the major source in most people’s diets.
- Grapes contain high levels of vitamin C, probably the most well-known antioxidant, but they also contain several other highly beneficial forms such as beta-carotene and resveratrol. Resveratrol is why many people consider a glass of red wine daily a healthy choice – but of course wine is made from grapes.
- Kiwifruit is not only an excellent source of vitamin C, it also contains a good level of healthy fiber.
- Artichokes offer both anti-aging benefits and a degree of protection against degenerative diseases – even Alzheimer’s.
- Apples are packed with antioxidant phyto-nutrients, flavonoids and polyphenolics. Antioxidant levels are sometimes measured as “ORAC Values.” An ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity measurement, allows us to compare various foods. A hundred gram apple measures 5900 on the ORAC Scale, which proves it contains lots of powerful antioxidants.
- Kidney beans and other legumes such as black beans, pinto beans and lentils contain a significant level of antioxidants.
- Dark chocolate has a 21,000 ORAC score, so keeping a little in your diet is a happy and healthy choice.
Eating a wide variety of herbs, fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes gives you a wide variety of different types of antioxidants in your diet. Choose fresh, raw and organic choices when possible, and your body will have many more ways to fight off degenerative disease and keep you looking young and healthy!