Whether you are training like crazy for a marathon, trying to get in better shape and build some muscle, or just concerned about maintaining cellular health, you need antioxidants in your life.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants will help keep these helpful compounds running through your body and protecting your cells from free radicals.
Let's look at 10 foods with some of the highest antioxidant content you can find, but first, let's get a further understanding of what antioxidants are.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds produced by the body and found in food. They help defend cells from potentially harmful molecules called free-radicals.
While we don't have a great understanding of what causes free-radicals to form, we do know that exercise and training play a part. We also know when too many free-radicals accumulate, they create oxidative stress.
That oxidative stress can damage cells and even increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Keeping your diet chocked full of antioxidant rich foods can help keep those free-radicals at an acceptable level and avoid chronic oxidative stress.
Now that we have a basic understanding of why this is important, let's look at 10 antioxidant-rich foods.
1. Dark Chocolate
How bad ass is it that real dark chocolate is actually good for you (that still doesn't give you a license to go overboard!)
Besides boasting the highest concentration of antioxidants, dark chocolate is also great for your cholesterol and blood pressure.
Make sure to reach for at least 85% cacao. I like to add cacao nibs to my oatmeal and get the extra fiber benefit as well!
Besides being great on a pie, pecans are an antioxidant powerhouse.
On top of that benefit, pecans and other nuts are a great way to get your healthy fats in.
Blueberries are probably the first food most people think about when it comes to antioxidants, so you may be a little surprised to find them at number three on the list.
Blueberries are still a great way to get your antioxidants though. They are low-calorie, and provide some much needed sweetness if you are just getting your diet under control. That sweetness can help reduce cravings, especially at the end of the day.
Good news, another delicious berry is toward the top of the list.
The brighter red the strawberry, the better. The red color comes from antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Be sure to reach for the organic variety to avoid the massive amount of pesticides sprayed on this crop.
Artichokes aren't something most folks eat on a regular basis. One curious property of this vegetable is the method of preparation actually changes the antioxidant level.
Opt for a boiled or steamed preparation to raise the antioxidant level. Frying them lowers it.
6. Goji Berries
Goji berries are usually consumed dried, and they are packed with other vitamins and minerals as well.
They make a great addition to oatmeal and trail mixes.
Berries pretty much dominate this list don't they?
Raspberries contain the same type of antioxidants as strawberries do, but at a slightly lower concentration.
Is there anything kale can't do?
This is the it-girl vegetable of the 2010's and the benefits just keep on coming. The amount of antioxidants will depend on the variety of kale you choose.
Switch it up from time to time and reach for green, red, or red Russian kale to get the most out of it.
9. Red Cabbage
Red cabbage is a powerhouse.
Packed with vitamins and minerals as well as those good ol' anthoncyanins.
Bonus points if you eat the fermented version, kimchee.
Beets are such a powerful food, but often looked over due to their taste. Besides the antioxidant content, they are also a powerful vasodilator, which can help improve athletic performance.
I like to add them to preworkout smoothies.
Reach For Antioxidants Daily
These ten antioxidant rich foods will give you plenty of great options that make getting a daily dose easy.
You can reach for a handful of blueberries or pecans if you need a snack in between meals, and a nice hunk of dark chocolate is great after dinner to help keep you from reaching for sugary treats.
However you like to do it, start today and start fighting those free-radicals.
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