The 10 Best Antioxidant Rich Foods

Beware of the Free Radical

The reason the body needs antioxidants is because of a tiny molecule called a free radical. Free radicals are created in our systems when our life brings us in contact with dangerous particles, these particles cause something called oxidative stress. They can come from anywhere (and everywhere), but they generally get introduced into the body by way of pesticides sprayed on food, chemical additives in processed food, pollution/smoking and chemicals in cleaners and body care products. Free radicals can also be made within the body as a result of inflammation or normal metabolism. Because they are ever present, your options are to go live in a bubble OR increase your antioxidant intake

Balancing oxidative stress with antioxidants can improve your health on many different levels; including fighting diseases like cancer, protecting brain and memory integrity, as well as playing a part in slowing the aging process. Sounds pretty good – and it is pretty easy too – start by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Then include nuts. Lastly, try some chocolate…oh, doing that already? Great! Now for the Top 10 Best Antioxidant Rich Foods.

Unique Compounds

Antioxidants themselves are either a nutrient (vitamin or mineral) or an enzyme that aids in the chemical reactions within the body. Foods that are the best antioxidants usually contain unique compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and tannins.

ORAC Value

ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” and refers to how powerful an antioxidant food is. Cooking will lower the ORAC score, so it is important to eat the items listed fresh or lightly cooked, as the longer you cook it the lower the score will go.

Benefits

Describes how the unique compounds have added benefit to specific systems or parts of the body. The foods listed here are not all the highest on the ORAC scale, but are considered the “best” because they are easiest to include in your diet.

 

Food Unique Compound ORAC Value (Per 100g) Benefits How to Eat it
  1. Acai Fruit
Anthocyanin 102,700 Aids in weight loss.High in omega 3, more protein than an egg. Acai oil promotes skin health. Available in juice, but check the label! Acai should be the first ingredient.
  1. Cocoa Powder
Polyphenols and flavanoids 55,653 Heart health,positive mood,regulates blood pressure. Aim for at least 60% cocoa in your chocolate bar and only have a couple squares at a time.
  1. Pecans
Flavanoids, ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin 17,940 Promotes healthy cell growth and reduces inflammation. Increases immunity. Eat them raw (natural) on salads, cereal or on their own as a snack.
  1. Lentils
Tannins 7,282 Boosts metabolism which aids in weight loss, reduces inflammation, high in iron (anemia). Pre-soak lentils, for ease of cooking as well as reducing gas producing compounds.
  1. Artichokes
Quercetin and a flavonoid called rutin, silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid 6,552  Lowers cholesterol, balances blood sugar, improves liver function and helps as a digestive aid. Try roasting artichokes in the oven. Lightly toss them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.
  1. Raspberry
Polyphenols anthocyanins, ellagic acid (tannin), quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid. 5,065 High in fiber,And helps to control blood pressure. Should be consumed very quickly once fully ripe, as they mold easily.
  1. Red wine
Resveratrol, quercetin, and the catechins 4,523 Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, improves brain function. Moderation is the key; one 5 oz. glass a day is best.
  1. Granny Smith Apple
Flavonoids and polyphenolics(Quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2)  3,898 Resistance against infections (cold and flu),Good for digestion and weight loss. Put some natural almond butter on sliced apple, or sprinkle diced apple on cereal.
  1. Collard Greens
Isothiocyanates,carotenoid anti-oxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin, etc.  3,145 Controls cholesterol, immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Instead of using a whole wheat wrap for a sandwich use a large collard green leaf to wrap up the filling.
  1. Beets
Glycine betaine and vitamin C 1,776 Reduces risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and peripheral vascular diseases. Make Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad

 

Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad

Makes 4 Servings

Beet roots on a old wooden table.

When you are looking to boost your antioxidant profile, this should be your go-to salad. Beets and quinoa are part of a unique family of foods that contain specific nutrients that are excellent for eye health. Beets are a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese and folic acid. Beets are also a good source of vitamin C, zinc, copper and iron. They don’t stop there! Beets have two components that boost their antioxidant profile, polyphenols and betalains, which are getting quite a bit of medical attention as potential anti-cancer agents.

 

Ingredients

3 medium beets

½ tbsp olive oil

½ cup of quinoa, rinsed

1 cups of water

1 cup diced red pepper

¼ cup walnuts or pecans

¼ cup feta (optional)

 

Dressing

¼ cup fresh dill

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 small clove chopped garlic, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° degrees.
  2. Peel and dice beets into small pieces (this will be messy). Toss in oil to coat and place on baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare ½ cup quinoa and 1 cup water according to package directions.
  4. In one bowl mix up the dressing.
  5. Remove beets from oven and quinoa from stove top and allow to cool.
  6. Mix beets, quinoa, the rest of the ingredients and dressing together.
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