Antioxidants are a class of nutrients that are capable of absorbing harmful free radicals in your body. By binding to these free radicals, they prevent them from causing damage to your cells. A diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants also boost your immune system, making you less susceptible to pathogens like the flu and common cold. Boost your intake by including more of the following foods in your diet.
Black and red grapes contain higher levels of antioxidants than green ones. Two of these antioxidants, anthocyanin and proanthocyanin, are said to boost the immune system. Grapes are also very high in resveratrol, which fights inflammation and helps reduce your risk of heart disease.
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and collard greens are loaded with the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. They also contain trace phytochemicals including lutein, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Kale in particular is high in kaempferol, which is known for its cancer-fighting properties.
Sweet potatoes are more popular than ever, and for good reason. These delicious orange veggies are packed with vitamin A, which studies show has powerful anti-aging properties. To make them even healthier, roast them in a little heart-healthy olive oil.
Green tea contains anthocyanin, the same inflammation-fighting nutrient that is found in grapes. It also contains catechins, a class of antioxidants that are thought to prevent cell damage and cancer. Experts recommend drinking at least four cups per day for maximum benefits. Freshly brewed green tea is the most nutrient-dense.
Lentils are powerful little legumes that are not only packed with antioxidant vitamins, but are also high in minerals that keep you looking vibrant and youthful. Add a handful of lentils to soups and stews for a healthy dose of zinc, selenium, calcium and vitamin C.
Blueberries are the food that everyone thinks of when they hear the word “antioxidant.” They deserve this reputation because they contain a wide array of phytochemicals with powerful cancer-fighting properties. Blueberries are also a great fruit for diabetics because they are lower on the glycemic index than most other berries.
Artichokes contain two antioxidants called quercetin and rutin, which are known to help fight infection. They are also very high in potassium, a mineral in which many Americans are deficient. Add them to dips and salads for a healthy boost.
Strawberries really pack a healthy punch, especially when allowed to fully ripen in the sunshine. Buy locally grown strawberries for the most benefit, since those found in grocery stores are often picked prematurely and ripened artificially. Strawberries contain almost as much vitamin C as oranges, and they’re high in several cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Russet potatoes are surprisingly high in vitamin C and beta carotene. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, a nutrient that’s important for a healthy metabolism. Just don’t load your russet potato up with sour cream and cheddar. Served with just fresh herbs used for seasoning, a baked russet potato contains about 135 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and no fat or cholesterol.
Apples really do help keep the doctor away. They contain a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which help regulate your blood sugar. Apples are also high in vitamin C, and their high pectin content is helpful for lowering LDL cholesterol.
Increasing your antioxidant intake is a great way to improve your overall health while also reducing your risk of future diseases. For best results, consume a wide variety of these antioxidant-rich foods on a regular basis. Each contains different powerful nutrients which work together to protect your cells from damage associated with cancer, premature aging, heart disease and other ailments.