Although oxidation reactions are inevitable in any metabolism, all organisms use antioxidants (either internally produced or obtained from food) to minimize the harmful effects of free radicals. Numerous studies have shown that increasing antioxidant intake has great health benefits, from reducing the risk of cancer to preventing aging. Antioxidants are found in most fruit, vegetables, nuts and spices in varying amounts. Here are six foods that are particularly rich in them:
Fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries contain high levels of a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol is also found in the skins of grapes and is the reason why red wine is known to have great health benefits. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, prevent the formation of blood clots and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cacao is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants known to man. The antioxidants found in cacao are part of a class of substances called flavanols, and they can help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. If you want to benefit from the maximum antioxidant power of cacao, choose the raw type, which has not been thermally processed.
Extra virgin olive is what makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy. It is high in phenolic compounds, a potent group of antioxidants among which the most well studied is oleocanthal. Oleocanthal has been shown kill cancer cells and reduce inflammation levels in the body. It is also the reason why good quality olive oil produces a tingling sensation in the throat.
Green teas are considered a veritable elixir of youth, being rich in powerful antioxidants called catechins. Among green teas, Matcha tea is decidedly the highest in antioxidants. Because it is consumed as the whole powdered leaf as opposed to just infusion, Matcha retains all the antioxidant power of the tea plant.
Turmeric, the yellow spice so popular in curry mixes, is not just delicious but very healthy. The active substance in it, curcumin, is a natural phenol with strong antioxidant properties. In several clinical trials, curcumin has been shown to kill cancer cells, lower cholesterol levels and help detoxify the liver.
Flax seeds are extremely rich in lignans, a type of antioxidants which can also act as phytoestrogens. Lignans are also found in whole grains and nuts, but flax has an extremely high concentration of them. Lignans have been shown to have a general anti-inflammatory activity, promote gut health, and prevent several types of cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are rich sources of a flavonoid antioxidant called kaempferol. Kaempferol has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, leukemia, and diabetes, as well as help attenuate the effects of allergies.
Antioxidants are beneficial substances that the body needs in order to neutralize free radicals. Some of their positive effects on the body are preventing cancer, heart, and neurological diseases, detoxifying the liver and increasing lifespan. Consuming foods high in antioxidants such as raw cacao, extra virgin olive oil, berries and flax seeds is an easy and delicious way to improve your health.