We hear a lot about antioxidants from the media and the wellness industry. We know that we should be eating antioxidants, but which foods have antioxidants and why are they so important? The best source of antioxidants are found in vegetables, fruit and nuts. Antioxidants keep free radicals in check and prevent them from causing damage in our bodies. Free radicals can be found in fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides and air pollutants.
Foods that contain the most antioxidants are colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues such as: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, bell peppers, kale, nectarines, peaches, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelon, berries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato and strawberries.
Oxidative stress, or the damage done by free radicals, is thought to contribute to the development of some diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular disease. Oxidative damage in our cells can also cause cancer. Just by consuming more fruits and vegetables, you can take steps to lessen the effects of pollutants we are exposed to every day and decrease your chances of developing chronic disease!
To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed. Don’t overcook or boil them. The simplest way to make sure you are getting enough antioxidant rich foods is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal!