Top Antioxidant Rich Foods

When it comes to the food you eat, sure, pizza is delicious and incredibly satisfying; that bag of chips hit the spot; the fast-food sandwich was convenient and life-sustaining. But when it comes to a healthy diet and getting the antioxidants your body needs to fight off cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and prevent premature aging, the truth is that the foods you need to eat are actually just as satisfying and tasty!

According to a USDA study of food antioxidants, researchers analyzed antioxidant levels in more than 100 foods and looked at the concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size. The study looked at fruits, vegetables, and even spices, which even though they are typically consumed in small amounts, contain a large amount of antioxidants.

How to measure antioxidants in the food we consume, and to determine a recommended amount of antioxidants each day, can be tricky because each food has various compounds that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are found in vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and many other phytochemicals (plant chemicals), which are found in nearly all of the plant-based foods we eat. According to the Billings Clinic, foods contain around 4,000 compounds that act as antioxidants. So in order to get the largest variety of antioxidants in your diet, you need to eat a variety of foods that contain the largest number of these compounds.

Foods Highest in Antioxidants

#1: Beans

Red Beans

  • Serving Size: Half Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 13,727

Kidney Beans

  • Serving Size: Half Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 13,259

Pinto Beans

  • Serving Size: Half Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving:11,864

Although beans aren’t one of the foods that are most known for being high in antioxidants, they are high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Because they are rich in antioxidants they also provide anti-inflammatory benefits, potentially helping reduce the risk of cancer. Beans, in general, are also high in fiber, which can help lower blood glucose and prevent diabetes.

Adding Beans to Your Diet

  • These types of beans are a great addition to your favorite chili recipe.
  • Mash them up and melt in some cheese for a fantastic chip dip.
  • Toss them in a Mexican salad with a spicy ranch dressing.

#2: Wild Blueberries

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 13,427

These berries are well-known for being rich in antioxidants, are low in calories, and offer a host of health benefits. Blueberries naturally contain anthocyanins, which is a type of flavonoid with antioxidant effects. Anthocyanins are what give some foods their bright red, purple, or blue pigment. Due to their antioxidant compounds, blueberries have been shown to help reduce DNA damage, which can help slow aging and protect against cancer. The berry is also known for helping maintain brain function, and prevent heart disease.

Adding Blueberries to Your Diet

  • Blueberries are a perfect treat just by themselves.
  • Mix them into a yogurt parfait with a drizzle of honey and nuts for crunch.
  • Bake them into muffins for a healthy breakfast.

#3: Cranberry

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 8,983

Cranberries are also high in anthocyanins, giving the berry their bright red color. They are also high in phenolic compounds, giving the fruit an antioxidant punch. You can also get a good dose of vitamin C, another source of antioxidants that can help absorb iron, boost the immune system, and support collagen production.

Adding Cranberry to Your Diet

  • Cook the berry down with a simple syrup and use it as a sauce.
  • Toss dried cranberries in a salad.
  • Grab a bottle of cranberry juice.

#4: Artichoke

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 7,904

Artichoke hearts are loaded with polyphenols and nutrients, including dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, K, and B6, and many others. Vitamin K has been shown to help clean calcium out of arteries and may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants in artichokes can help protect your liver from toxins, aids in digestion, and due to the polyphenols, they can help fight cancer.

Adding Artichoke to Your Diet

  • Steam the vegetable, drizzle with lemon juice, and drip in a butter sauce.
  • Grill or braise and use it as a pizza topping.
  • Grab a jar and mix into a spinach and artichoke dip.

#5: Blackberries

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 7,701

Blackberries are high in vitamin C, which is a great source for antioxidant fighting properties to benefit the immune system and collagen production. Blackberries contain anthocyanins, which can help fight cancer and heart disease. You’ll also benefit from vitamins K and A, keeping your arteries clean and your skin, teeth, and bones strong and healthy.

Adding Blackberries to Your Diet

  • Grab a handful for an afternoon snack.
  • Blend them up and make a delightful ice cream.
  • Make a blackberry jam and spread on toast.

#6: Prunes

  • Serving Size: Half Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 7,291

Prunes may be stereotyped for being especially beneficial for older people, but they are basically dried plums that offer a sweet flavor and dozens of benefits. They contain manganese, iron, and plant polyphenols. Prunes are great for the heart, they help to prevent heart disease, they aid in digestion, and they are great for the skin. Prunes tend to be high in sugar, though, so be mindful of how many you snack on.

Adding Prunes to Your Diet

  • Toss a handful into your morning oatmeal.
  • Chop them up into a prune and chocolate chunk cookie.
  • Make roasted chicken with a sweet prune sauce.

#7: Raspberry

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 6,058

Delicious, sweet, and so easy to grab and eat, raspberries are a wonderful source for antioxidants that will protect your body against various diseases. Raspberries are rich in vitamin A, C, and flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and anthocyanidin. These compounds provide a host of antioxidant benefits including healthier cells; reduced the risk of cancers like breast, cervical, and colon; and a reduced risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Adding Raspberries to Your Diet

  • Toss a handful onto a stack of pancakes.
  • Bake them into a batch of oatmeal cookies.
  • Make a homemade vinaigrette for a bright salad dressing.

#8: Strawberries

  • Serving Size: 1 Cup
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 5,938

There’s nothing better than a freshly picked strawberry, and your body won’t mind either. High in polyphenols, strawberries can help prevent heart disease. The flavonoid quercetin provides a variety of anti-inflammatory benefits, such as reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Strawberries are also high in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber, helping to support an overall healthy body. Like many other berries, keep an eye on the amount of sugar that you’re consuming with strawberries.

Adding Strawberries to Your Diet

  • Did someone say strawberry shortcake?
  • Try drying out strawberries in the oven and make a dried fruit mix.
  • Combine with rhubarb and vanilla for a decadent dessert.

#9: Red Delicious Apples

  • Serving Size: One Apple
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 5,900

There’s a reason why they say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples, especially Red Delicious and Granny Smith contain high amounts of quercetin, which provides a range of antioxidant benefits. Two other polyphenols, epicatechin and procyanidin B2, also contribute to apple’s antioxidant activity. These compounds may help fight Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and breast cancer.

Adding Apples to Your Diet

  • Slice up your favorite apple and dip into peanut butter or a caramel sauce.
  • Bake up a nutritious apple pie.
  • Sink your teeth into an apple during a busy day.

#10: Pecans

  • Serving Size: 1 Ounce
  • Antioxidant Capacity Per Serving: 5,095

High in healthy unsaturated fat and low in unhealthy fats, pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, E, several B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, and many more. Since these vitamins and minerals provide a host of antioxidant benefits, pecans are one of the best nuts to snack if you’re looking to improve your overall health. Pecans are also full of flavonoids, helping prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Adding Pecans to Your Die

  • Chop them up and toss them into a salad.
  • Enjoy a low-sugar pecan pie.
  • Go all-in with a sweet potato and pecan casserole.

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