If you’re looking to up your health game, incorporating more super foods into your diet is a great way to do it. Super foods, also referred to as antioxidant foods, offer maximum nutritional benefits with minimal calories. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and of course, antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and make your body healthier all around. There are certain foods that are especially high in antioxidants that you should be eating on the regular. Take a look at our favourite super foods and recipes for better health.
What Does ‘Antioxidant’ Mean?
Antioxidants are substances that prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radicals are unstable molecules that your body produces as a reaction to environmental or other stressors (for example: air pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol, radiation, high blood sugar levels).
Antioxidants can protect against the cell damage that free radicals cause, known as oxidative stress. Your body has its own antioxidant defences, but they’re also found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, and other plant-based whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamin E and C are effective antioxidants.
3 Health Benefits of Antioxidant Foods
1. Reduce Risk of Disease
Eating foods high in antioxidants can reduce your risk of some diseases such as heart disease, vision loss, diabetes and certain cancers. Antioxidants remove free radicals from the body cells and prevent or reduce damage caused by oxidation. Eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidant foods is a key way to reduce your risk of disease.
2. Eye Health
Antioxidants including lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C and E have been found to reduce the risk of serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. You can find these antioxidants in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and nuts, so be sure to stock up on them for your eye health.
3. Boost Your Mood
Free radicals have been linked to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as complex neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants may work to combat neuroinflammation caused by free radical damage, which is thought to be a precursor for these diseases. Antioxidants have also been found to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.
10 Best Antioxidant Foods
Blueberries are chock full of nutrients and antioxidants. They’ve been found to contain the highest amount of antioxidants among popular fruits and vegetables, helping to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. The antioxidants found in blueberries help with brain function and can reduce the risk of factors for heart disease, such as lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Pecans contain a high amount of antioxidants and help raise antioxidant levels in the blood and lower bad cholesterol. They’re also rich in minerals and healthy fats, and make for a delicious addition to breakfast bowls, salads and desserts.
Strawberries are another type of berry rich in antioxidants and are also a great source of vitamin C. They contain a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins that can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol.
Raspberries are an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants. The antioxidants in raspberries have been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, and they also may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Kale is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. The flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol have powerful heart-protective, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer effects.
6. Purple Cabbage
Purple cabbage (also known as red cabbage) is nutrient-rich and has a high antioxidant content. In comparison to green cabbage, it contains 10 times more vitamins, cancer-fighting flavonoids and antioxidants which improve eye, teeth, bone and immune health. Fermented purple cabbage helps heal the gut by providing beneficial probiotics.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and minerals, and contains less sugar than milk chocolate. The antioxidants in cocoa and dark chocolate have been linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation and reduced risk factors for heart disease. They do this by raising blood antioxidant levels, raising levels of good cholesterol and preventing bad cholesterol from becoming oxidized.
Beets are a great source of fibre, potassium, iron, and folate, and are rich in antioxidants. They’re a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. Beets can also support brain health, improve digestive health and keep your blood pressure in check.
Spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and is super low in calories. It’s also one of the best plant-based sources of iron and is one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables around. It’s a key source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can help protect your eyes from damaging UV light.
Coffee drinkers, rejoice! Coffee beans contain disease-destroying antioxidants called quinines, which become more potent after roasting. They’re also rich in antioxidants including hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. Hydrocinnamic acids are effective at neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress and polyphenols can prevent heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
10 Breakfast Antioxidant Foods & Recipes
1. Antioxidant Berry Banana Smoothie | The Spruce Eats
2. Antioxidant Rich Breakfast Bars | Spark Recipes
3. Beet and Berry Smoothie Bowl | Traditional Cooking School
4. Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes | One Green Planet
5. Sweet Potato Protein Breakfast Bowl | Fit Mitten Kitchen
6. Overnight Oats with Blueberries and Almonds | PureWow
7. No-Bake Chocolate Chia Energy Bars | Running on Real Food
8. Ultimate Antioxidant Paleo Breakfast Bowl | The Paleo Diet
9. Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds and Berries | Hello Glow
10. Green Shakshuka | PureWow
10 Lunch & Dinner Antioxidant Foods & Recipes
1. Beet Chickpea Cakes with Mint and Lemon Zest Sauce | One Green Planet
2. Anti-Inflammatory Salad with Kale, Beets and Turmeric Dressing | A Whisk and Two Wands
3. Chickpea Veggie Bowl with Spinach and Guacamole | Salad Menu
4. Summer Antioxidant Salad | Whole Food Bellies
5. Lentil and Beet Meatballs with Pasta | One Green Planet
6. California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw | Food52
7. Homemade Wholewheat Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms | Yep Recipes
8. Broccoli and Tomato Flat Bread Pizzas | The Pioneer Woman
9. Beetroot Gnocchi with Caper and Leek Gremolata | To Her Core
10. Spinach Gnudi | Olive Magazine
10 Snack & Dessert Antioxidant Foods & Recipes
1. Dark Chocolate Pecan Toffee Bark | The Toasty Kitchen
2. Beet and Cumin Fritters | Blissful Basil
3. Antioxidant Trail Mix | All Recipes
4. Super Food Grain-Free Granola with Wild Blueberries and Coconut | Parsnips and Pastries
5. Healthy Raspberry Frozen Yogurt | As Easy As Apple Pie
6. Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies | How Sweet Eats
7. Super Food Granola Bars | Choosing Chia
8. Keto Blueberry Cheesecake | Fit to Serve
9. Antioxidant Rich Carrot Cake | Oh Sweet Mercy
10. Super Food Energy Balls | Eating Bird Food
Antioxidants are a key part of a healthy diet. Stock up on these superfoods and try these recipes to reap serious health benefits!