First and foremost, what exactly are antioxidants?

 According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.” Adding onto this: “Examples of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.” There is the option to take a supplement, but it is best to eat antioxidant-rich foods. Also, supplements can be weary due to the fact that it can alter your medications, so always contact your physician if you take medication if you want to try the supplement. Taking a supplement truly is not recommended unless you are unable to maintain a nutrient dense diet. 

Why do we need them?

In our everyday life, especially if it is due to our living situation—we can be exposed to free radicals. Free radicals, according to the NIH,  “from a variety of environmental sources, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and sunlight. Free radicals can cause “oxidative stress,” a process that can trigger cell damage. Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in a variety of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.” Apparently, studies have shown that eating antioxidant-rich foods counteract these negative effects that have the possibility of reducing cell damage. The NIH highly believes in the capabilities of eating antioxidant-rich foods to the point where they’re conducting multiple research products to see whether it can prevent or even treat prostrate cancer. 

Antioxidant-rich Foods to Try 

St. John’s Health released a list of antioxidant-rich foods. Although the list includes fruits and vegetables it also includes small red beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, and pecans. The vegetables include: artichokes, russet potatoes, and dark leafy vegetables. The fruits include: cultivated blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples (specifically: Granny Smith, gala, and red delicious), sweet cherries, black and regular plums. Black tea is also a great antioxidant-rich beverage to consume as well—just watch the caffeine. Also, surprise! Dark chocolate is also included in the list; however, everything must be eaten in moderation. 

The list is endless and there are tons of options for all tastes! Food Network posted more antioxidant-rich foods along with recipes attached to each food ranging from kale chips and a strawberry spinach salad. You can find that here. When it comes to the beans, a vegetarian chili would be perfect for your daily intake of antioxidants as well! Eating a more plant based diet also provides a more nutrient rich life and some of the benefits from a past article can be found here. What foods will you incorporate into your diet first?