Antioxidants are an important part of a healthy diet, as you’ve heard time and again. We’ve gathered a list of the foods that pack the biggest antioxidant punch to help boost your immune system, prevent free radical damage and stave off disease. When you think of antioxidants, you probably imagine leafy greens like kale, spinach or collards. While these are great sources of antioxidants, some days you’re just not in the mood for handfuls of leafy greens – we get it. Luckily, high concentrations of antioxidants can be found in a variety of natural foods, supplements and spices. You can enjoy the vast health benefits of antioxidants without sacrificing flavor or drinking mud-colored concoctions (sometimes). Read on to learn some of the surprising, but powerful sources of antioxidants!
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from harmful molecules (also known as oxidants or free radicals). Free radicals do not contain oxygen, and when absorbed by the body they can trigger oxidative damage such as advanced aging, inflammation and increased risk of disease. Antioxidants work to prevent and terminate the damage caused by harmful free radicals, and aim to reverse oxidative stress.
Made from cultivated microalgae, this superfood is packed with antioxidants that help boost immunity and prevent oxidative damage. The powerful green powder contains phycocyanin, a unique antioxidant that not only gives spirulina its color, but also fights free radicals and prevents the production of inflammatory producing molecules. Spirulina comes in both power and tablet form, and can be added to smoothies, sauces and baked goods.
Scraped from tree barks and used for centuries, cinnamon has one of the most impressive antioxidant counts among spices. In fact, one teaspoon of cinnamon boasts as many antioxidants as a ½ cup of blueberries! This ancient spice is loaded with polyphenols, or micronutrients with antioxidants, and helps prevent the progression of various diseases. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, used in cooking, mixed with smoothies or added to your morning coffee.
Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and it’s easy to see why. These tiny black seeds carry surprisingly high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients that benefit your entire body. The antioxidants in chia seeds preserve the delicate fats found within them, delivering a potent defense against the damage caused by free radicals. Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, soups and yogurt parfaits.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, oil is a compound found in cannabis that’s loaded with antioxidant properties. The powerful CBD antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and neurodegenerative disorders. Cannabinoids shield the central and peripheral nervous system (brain, spine) from accumulating excessive levels of cellular damage. CBD’s antioxidant potential yields anti-inflammatory properties, provides homeostasis within the entire body and releases neurological protectants. CBD comes in capsules, tinctures and isolate, allowing you to take it directly or add it to smoothies and food.
Rich in antioxidants, hemp seeds shine with high levels of vitamin C, vital for promoting immune function. Hemp seeds also contain tocopherol, a naturally occuring form of vitamin E that helps protect against oxidation in foods as well as prevent against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Hemp seeds can be enjoyed in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, salads, soups and baked goods.
A cup of green tea is bursting with health benefits and antioxidants. This potion contains polyphenol antioxidants, including a large quantity of a catechin (antioxidant) known as EGCG. These antioxidants prevent cell damage, reduce the formation of free radicals and provide a wide spectrum of healing benefits to the brain. Green tea can be consumed both hot or iced.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins, quercetin and vitamin C. Anthocyanins are an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory resource that protects the nervous system and blood vessels, and works to lower risks for diabetes and certain types of cancer. Berries pack a punch of vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system, absorb iron and aid in the repair of body tissues. Quercetin is another powerful antioxidant that wards off damage caused by free radicals, like aging and inflammation. Berries are delicious and easy to consume: simply blend them into a smoothie, mix them in with a salad or add them to your morning oatmeal.
Antioxidants are powerful defenders of health. They deliver numerous benefits to the entire body, and help ward off the harmful effects of free radical damage. You can get your critical daily boost of antioxidants from several different sources, just be sure you’re continually supplying your body with the antioxidants it so greatly needs. Antioxidants are a key player in establishing an essential foundation for good health that can keep your body functioning at an optimal level for years to come.