Antioxidants are chemicals that occur naturally in the human body. They can also be ingested in food and drink. The value of having antioxidants in your diet lies in their ability to counter free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced naturally in the body as a by-product of normal metabolic processes. They can also be produced by exposure to toxins such as pollution, cigarette smoke, and radiation. Free radicals are unstable and can damage cells, DNA, and other important molecules, leading to inflammation, aging, and disease. Antioxidants counter free radicals by neutralizing them and preventing them from causing harm to cells. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to the free radical, stabilizing it and reducing its ability to cause damage. Some common sources of antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium. Here are some of the foods that contain these compounds most abundantly.
The health benefits of garlic have been known for millennia. The ancient Romans encouraged their warriors to consume garlic in order to promote strength. The vegetable was used in countless herbal remedies throughout history. It is only recently, however, that humans have worked out what makes garlic so potent for the preservation of human health. Garlic, a member of the allium family, contains a great many antioxidant chemicals. Bulk garlic consumption over a lifetime can help to reduce the likelihood of oxidant-accelerated illnesses.
Perhaps the greatest nemesis of the picky child, broccoli is a wonderful source of antioxidants. All brassica plants contain a great man of these healthy chemicals.
Blueberries are one of the items on this list that have been grouped under the banner of ‘superfoods’. Blueberries are considered a superfood due to their high levels of antioxidants, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. These small berries are packed with anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that gives them their deep blue color and has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber, which can help to support a healthy digestive system and reduce the risk of constipation.
Sometimes treating yourself can be good for you. Dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces. The higher the concentration of cocoa in the chocolate, the more antioxidants (and less nasty sugars) will be present. Cocoa has historically been used as a medicinal plant, and it is not hard to see why people connected the delicious and bitter nut-bearing tree with health-giving properties in the past.
Kale, like broccoli, is a member of the brassica family. Green kale and cavolo nero contain even more antioxidants than their tree-like cousin. The red varieties of kale – such as red Russian kale – contain even more nutritious antioxidants than the green varieties. Steam or gently blanch this vegetable to get the most out of it.
Three you have it – the foods to eat if you’re after antioxidants.