9 Foods That Are Rich in Antioxidants
What Are Antioxidants?
Free radicals are normal in the human body. But too many free radicals can wreak havoc on your body and cause multiple different illnesses. While your body has a natural defense system to help protect against free radicals, antioxidants can provide a boost when your immune system isn’t enough. (1)
An easy way to increase your antioxidants is to consume them. There are many foods and beverages that contain antioxidants.
Foods That Contain Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is made from cacao, a plant that contains high levels of antioxidants. Dark chocolate also contains other compounds like flavanols and polyphenols. These compounds possess similar properties to antioxidants. (2)
To get the most health benefits from dark chocolate, you’ll want to make sure your chocolate is at least 70% cocoa and organic, with no high fructose corn syrup. According to several studies, the recommended amount of dark chocolate per day is 1.5 to 3 ounces. (3)
In a study done on blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries, results showed that of the three, blueberries had the highest antioxidant capacity. According to researchers, “The blueberries had particularly high levels of anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which may be responsible for their very strong antioxidant activity.” (4)
Blueberries also have a high level of the flavonoid anthocyanin. This flavonoid is what gives blueberries their dark blue coloring. It is also believed that anthocyanin is the reason that blueberries are such a great source of antioxidants. (5) While there is no official recommended serving size for blueberries, many sources state that even a half cup of blueberries can have amazing health benefits. (6)
Artichokes are very nutrient-rich vegetables. They are particularly high in folate and vitamins C and K, which may be why they are one of the highest antioxidant-rich vegetables. (7) According to a study done by the USDA on antioxidant levels in vegetables, out of 1,000 different foods, artichokes ranked seventh. (8)
The recommended serving size of artichokes is one per day. A serving of this size is low in calories and fats. It will also offer you 10% of your recommended daily vitamin C and 12% of your daily recommended fiber intake. (9)
Cranberries are considered a superfood because they offer a good source of vitamins and are high in antioxidants. One of the vitamins that cranberries are particularly high in is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that is powerful in blocking some of the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamin C can also help boost the immune system and support wound healing. (10)
Black beans are high in fiber and protein, but one thing most people don’t know is that they are also high in antioxidants. Along with being a good source of antioxidants, black beans have been shown to help (11):
- Lower blood pressure
- Manage diabetes
- Ward off heart disease
- Prevent cancer
- Weight loss
Plums, in addition to being a great source of fiber, contain 15 different types of vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of antioxidants. One study found that plums are high in polyphenol antioxidants, which have been found to help increase bone health and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. (12) If you are not a fan of plums, you can also get similar health benefits from prunes or prune juice.
Spinach is a great source of many vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great source of antioxidants. An article by Harvard University stated that “spinach is one of the best sources for the antioxidant lutein, which may promote eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.” (13)
Spinach is very easy to incorporate into any diet. You can add it to salads, pasta, and many other foods. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, according to the article published by Harvard, eating uncooked spinach is better to ensure you receive the highest amount of antioxidants and other nutrients. (13)
Orange vegetables are often a great source of vitamin A and other nutrients. They also contain high amounts of phytochemicals, which not only gives them their vibrant color, but makes them high in antioxidants. Orange vegetables with high antioxidants include (14):
- Sweet potatoes
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
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