Produced in your body and found in foods, antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Accumulated free radicals can cause oxidative stress which can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that you can fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of developing these diseases by eating a diet rich in antioxidants.
Scientists measure the antioxidant content in foods by using a a test called FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analysis. The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants a certain food contains.
The following are the top 4 healthy foods that are high in antioxidants.
6) Dark Chocolate
Good news for chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is actually nutritious. According to the FRAP analysis, dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces, more than raspberries and blueberries, which contain 2.3 and 9.2 mmol of antioxidants respectively in the same serving size.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate and cocoa have been found to have impressive health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease as well as inflammation.
A native nut of Mexico and South America, pecans are a good source of antioxidants as well as healthy fats and minerals. According to the FRAP analysis, pecans contain up to 10.6 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams.
Another great thing about pecans is that not only does this nut contain a healthy amount of antioxidants, it also helps increase antioxidant levels in blood. In fact, a study found that people who get 20% of their daily calories from eating pecans experienced increased blood antioxidant levels.
Packed with nutrients and low in calories, blueberries blueberries contain up to 9.2 mmol of antioxidants on the FRAP analysis test. According to studies, the antioxidant found in blueberries can delay brain function decline that comes with age by neutralizing harmful free radicals, changing the expression of certain genes and reducing inflammation. Blueberries also contain a type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well reduce risk factors for heart disease.
Based on the FRAP analysis, artichokes contain 4.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. This delicious and nutritious vegetable is especially rich in antioxidants known as chlorogenic acids, which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
Scientists claim that how artichokes are prepared cna influence their antioxidant levels. For example, boiling artichokes can increase their antioxidant levels by eight times while steaming them can raise it by 15 times. Avoid frying artichokes as it reduces their antioxidant content.
One of the most popular berries on the planet, strawberries are a rich source of antioxidants as well as vitamin C. According to the FRAP analysis, strawberries can provide up to 5.4 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Additionally, strawberries are packed with anthocyanins, the type of antioxidant that helps reduce heart disease risks.
1) Red Cabbage
Also called purple cabbage, red cabbage is not only rich in vitamins A, C and K, it also packs a healthy amount of antioxidant content. According the the FRAP analysis, red cabbage can provide you with up to 2.2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams, four times the amount of antioxidants found in regular cabbages. The reason for this is because red cabbage contains anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives it its red color.
The way red cabbage is prepared can also affect its antioxidant levels. Stir-frying or boiling a cabbage can boost its antioxidant content while steaming it can reduce its antioxidant levels by as much as 35%.