Many of us fall into the trap of buying health and beauty products with the word ‘antioxidant’ in them without knowing exactly how these mysterious compounds actually benefit us. However, to clear the misconception, antioxidants basically act like little bodyguards to protect our cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and diseases. They neutralize harmful free radicals, molecules that play a role in cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and more.
Though there are many antioxidant dietary supplements available in the market, health experts recommend to consume them the old-fashioned way, that it through your diets. In fact, on should typically be eating antioxidant-rich foods multiple times throughout the day.
Adding antioxidants to your daily diet is pretty simple as they are found in a variety of foods including fruits, nuts, vegetables and even sweets! Here’s a list of foods rich in antioxidants.
Not only are walnuts a solid source of protein, fiber, and manganese, they are also loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, like all nuts. But compared to other varieties, walnuts are particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in plants.
Just a handful of these nuts a day can help lower cholesterol. Pecans are bursting with the mineral manganese, which boasts age-defying antioxidant powers to help keep skin firm. Pecans also contain beta-sitosterol, which contributes to prostate health.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and other skin-friendly antioxidants that help your complexion recover from damage caused by UV rays and pollution. They also contain folate, a B vitamin that helps protect your heart. Strawberries are also known to naturally whiten the teeth.
Dark chocolate gets its famed health benefits from antioxidants called flavonols that can help lower blood pressure and reduce diabetes risk. Highly processed chocolatey picks with added sugar and milk–as usual–since they have lower antioxidant levels, hence aren’t as beneficial. As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate.
The deep red color of cherries is due to high levels of anthocyanins, also found in blueberries, which reduce inflammation and help lower cholesterol. Canned tart or sour cherries and dried sweet cherries both scored higher for antioxidants than the sweet, fresh variety. Tart cherries pack an added bonus: melatonin, which can help to regulate sleep cycles.
Oranges, along with mangos, peaches, and watermelon, are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant and one of a pair of compounds that lowered the risk of arthritis by an impressive 20 to 40 percent in a study of 25,000 people.
Spinach is packed with carotenoids—antioxidants that promote healthy eyes and help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.
Beets are packed with healthy nutrients, including five essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and protein.