Foods Rich in Antioxidants
- Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
- An antioxidant-rich diet may reduce the risk of many diseases and help maintain healthy skin.
- Foods rich in antioxidants include dark chocolate, blueberries, goji berries and green tea.
The immune system isn’t the only superhero that fights off illness. There’s another anti-hero that deserves a cape of its own: antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells from damage caused by compounds called free radicals. If the body has too many free radicals, it can lead to various diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
While the body naturally produces some antioxidants (alpha lipoic acid and glutathione are two examples) they are also abundantly available in certain foods. This includes plant-based options, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, spices and herbs and even chocolate. Keep reading to learn more about foods that are rich in antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants and the Benefits?
Antioxidants are compounds that slow or delay damage caused by free radicals. They balance these free radicals to prevent or slow them from causing damage to the body.
Antioxidants are also used as food additives in food production since they act as preservatives that increase the shelf life of natural and processed foods.
But in order to truly understand the benefits of this magical compound, it helps to understand its arch enemy: free radicals. These are unstable oxygen molecules that can harm the body.
What causes free radical formation? Here are some examples:
- Cigarette smoke
- Exposure to x-rays
- Ultraviolet rays
- Prolonged exercise
Free radicals aren’t all bad. For example, take their impact on the immune system as they are a sidekick that helps fight illness. Free radicals become a problem when they outnumber the balance of antioxidants in the body. This results in oxidative stress, which can damage the organs and tissues and may even lead to cell death.
While there isn’t a definitive guide on how many antioxidants a person needs in their diet, it’s recommended to get a minimum of 8-11,000 antioxidant units a day.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants
An antioxidant-rich diet covers all ends of the food spectrum, from buzzy wellness superfoods (like goji berries or açai smoothie bowls) to fridge staples that never miss a ride in your grocery cart (like strawberries and carrots).
Here’s a closer look at foods rich in antioxidants:
Good things come from eating the rainbow. Berries–blueberries strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and goji berries, to name a few—are all loaded with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol.
Since berries are also anti-inflammatory, they have been found to have positive effects on cognitive mental function.
Berries are versatile fruits that can be eaten on their own, sprinkled over yogurt or cereal or enjoyed in smoothies like our Blueberry Avocado Smoothie Bowl recipe.
Herbs and Spices
Spice up the way you protect yourself from disease with herbs and spices. In addition to turning a bland piece of meat into a culinary masterpiece, spices are natural antioxidant wonders with healing properties.
For example, a 2020 meta-analysis found that cinnamon increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation markers, such as c-reactive protein.
Spices with the highest antioxidant count include:
Many antioxidants come from the drinks we consume, such as a cup of green tea. It’s brimming with a type of polyphenol called the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG provides many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, liver disease and various cancers.
Swapping that mid-day coffee for a cup of green tea may also have cognitive benefits. A 2020 study found that drinking green tea may result in a reduced likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Additional foods that are high in antioxidants:
- Fruits (apples, avocado, peaches, cherries, pears, red grapes)
- Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, carrots, kale, potato, mushrooms)
- Whole grains (oats, wheat, corn)
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, pecans, chestnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pistachios)
- Legumes (red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans)
- Cocoa (chocolate)
Are there Antioxidant Supplements?
There are many readily available antioxidant supplements that contain concentrated forms of antioxidants. Popular examples include vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
If you’re going the antioxidant route, don’t exceed the dose on the bottle. A 2022 study of athletes found that long-term high doses of antioxidants actually increased oxidative stress. It reduced some of the benefits of exercise, such as improved insulin sensitivity and muscle gains (hypertrophy).
Once you find the right dose, the next step is to choose the right supplementation. Each dose of Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex contains antioxidants from astaxanthin and olive fruit extract to help fight free radicals. Take care of your skin with Glutathione Force (read about the benefits of glutathione here), which offers antioxidant support to keep skin glowing.
If you want to harness the power of your body to antioxidants, make a conscious effort to choose foods rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent or slow damage to your body caused by free radicals. By protecting the body from a process called oxidative stress, they prevent cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
For the best fighting-power, aim for an antioxidant-rich diet that contains plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and herbs and spices.
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