Antioxidants, the natural chemicals in foods that make them nutritious and prevent health problems, are having a moment.
And for good reason.
Antioxidants combat heart disease, cancer and aging. Plus, many of the foods brimming with antioxidants also have other amazing vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need daily — not to mention that many of them taste and smell amazing. It’s a win-win for daily and long-term nutrition. Let’s look at some of the top antioxidant foods out there:
Antioxidants can be found in abundance in fruits, especially in berries. Cranberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all contain high amounts of antioxidants, but none compare to blackberries, which at 1 cup per serving, have the most disease-fighting power of all fruits.
Fiber-rich strawberries, too, are a great choice for those looking for antioxidants, followed by cranberries, skin-protecting blueberries and the vitamin C powerhouse that is the raspberry.
There is a good reason why leafy greens appear so many times on lists for top brain foods, energy foods, beauty foods and more. So continues health food gurus’ love affair with spinach, kale, red cabbage, broccoli, artichoke hearts and beans — the more colorful the better! — because they are the top veggies packed with antioxidants and other vitamins and nutrients.
Beans — in addition to flavonoids that act as antioxidants — are a great source of protein. Pro tip: Cook, rather than consume raw, the leafy treats, and purchase dried kidney and black beans (as opposed to the canned variety) to get the most out of those foods.
Walnuts and pecans top the list of nuts and seeds with the most antioxidants per 1-ounce serving size, followed by hazelnut and almonds. Did we really need another reason to love pecans? We should note, though, that while walnuts are cholesterol-free and contain only small amounts of sugar and sodium, they’re also packed with calories, so consume with caution.
The intoxicating smells of cloves and cinnamon are now the second reason why we love those antioxidant-rich spices. A 2004 study found that ground cloves, ground cinnamon and oregano ranked highest among spices in antioxidant concentration. Tip: Add cloves to an acorn squash for a flavor and health enhancer.