5 antioxidant-rich foods to reduce inflammation and delay aging

Antioxidants are a must in your body as they fight off free radicals, resulting in reduced body inflammation and a delayed aging process. When high in levels, these free radicals can cause harm to you. It can lead to multiple fatal illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Basically, your body has its own antioxidants to defend against and kick out free radicals, but you can always boost them by eating antioxidant-rich foods.

Antioxidants in neutralising free radicals

Think of free radicals as bandits plundering healthy cells while antioxidants save your body by stabilising them. Antioxidants can be found in healthy foods and may contribute to the process of preventing and slowing damage to your cells that is caused by free radicals–referring to unstable molecules helping the body in producing reactions to environmental and other pressure. 

Moreover, antioxidants help with the process by neutralising the damage with the provided essential nutrients like vitamins A, C and E and other vitamins, including minerals, copper, zinc and selenium. [1]. 

With their healthy function in the body, antioxidants can boost your overall health, primarily by reducing inflammation in the body and slowing down aging. They protect tissues from damage against reactive oxygen species and other free radicals, resulting in fewer infections or injuries. 

As antioxidants can prevent and slow damage to cells, they can ultimately be one of the keys to achieving healthy longevity. Antioxidants can potentially delay aging as free radicals also damage your DNA. They can help slow down the signs of aging on the skin. 

The most effective way to boost overall health and have a longer life span is by eating the five best food sources of antioxidants. 

1. Avocados

Top of the list is the superfood avocado! This fruit is amazing for so many aspects of your health and for anti-aging. Avocados are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fatty acids that can help protect your body from inflammation and minimise cellular aging. 

While avocados are jam-packed with numerous essential vitamins, their vitamin E source is the best one in achieving younger-looking skin. The vitamin E found in avocados helps protect your skin from sun exposure and other environmental damage, contributing to premature aging. 

Plus, avocados contain an array of phytonutrients, such as phytosterols, carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, flavonoids like epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate and oleic acid. Phytosterols can aid in managing your blood cholesterol levels and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke. 

On the other hand, flavonoids provide anti-inflammatory effects that protect your cells from oxidative damage, which can lead to diseases including diabetes, cancer and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia [2]. Also, carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A, can help in supporting your eye health and improve the elasticity of the skin. 

2. Fatty fish

Next on the list is fatty fish, which is a highly nutritious food with healthy skin-promoting properties. Fatty fish also has long-chain omega-3 fats that are beneficial against heart disease, inflammation and many other health issues [3]. Omega-3 fatty acids are found to be associated with a robust skin barrier and may contribute to decreasing inflammation that damages the skin. 

One of the most common types of fatty fish around is salmon. It has added beneficial aspects in supporting your skin’s health. With its carotenoid antioxidant content called astaxanthin – which is responsible for the pink colour of salmon, salmon can synthesise collagen and elastin, smooth deep wrinkles and crow’s feet around the eyes and mimic wrinkles. It can also increase skin density, elasticity and firmness.

One research study conducted a method where people with sun-damaged skin were asked to use a combination of astaxanthin and collagen for twelve weeks. In the end, the researchers found that the participants experienced significant improvements in skin elasticity and hydration. However, the gap in the research occurs as the root of the positive effects is unidentified, whether it came from astaxanthin, collagen, or combined [4]. 

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Furthermore, salmon and other fatty fish are good sources of protein. It is important to consume protein as it can optimise your body in generating more collagen and elastin fibres. These two substances are responsible for skin strength, plumpness and elasticity. Additionally, eating protein also promotes wound healing. 

Selenium, a mineral and antioxidant found in fatty fish, plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair and may contribute to reducing and preventing skin damage from UV light. Having proper levels of selenium in the body can reduce the severity of skin diseases like psoriasis. 

3. Walnuts

Here’s another power food to add to your diet – walnuts! It is perfect for you if you are looking for something easily available with superb antiaging benefits. Walnuts contain rich omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and zinc, which are three of the best essential nutrients in keeping cells healthy as they protect them from oxidative damage and reduce inflammation. 

There is a lot to be said about walnuts when it comes to health benefits. First, eating walnuts can protect you from all free radicals that can cause skin damage and wrinkles. Secondly, they are also linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, helping you to prevent having heart disease. 

Lastly, who would not want a tasty and delicious snack that can also help in weight loss? Walnuts’ palatability is widely acceptable, plus it is helpful in improving your metabolism. Even just by eating a small number of walnuts, you can definitely benefit from it, research says. It can improve your blood pressure levels and metabolic rate. 

4. Extra virgin olive oil 

One of the healthiest oils on Earth is extra virgin olive oil. With its healthy fats and antioxidant content, consuming extra virgin olive oil can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage caused by an imbalance of free radicals in the body. 

Following a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil can lower your risk of developing chronic diseases, mainly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer. Around 73 percent of extra virgin olive oil is monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) which is quite a healthy option for you. MUFAs are known to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol level, which may clog or block arteries or blood vessels. It technically lowers your risk of having heart disease and stroke. 

Not just that, some research studies have shown that a diet rich in MUFAs can contribute to reducing skin aging – all thanks to the strong anti-inflammatory effects of these healthy fats [5]. Extra virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants, particularly tocopherols and beta carotene, as well as phenolic compounds that also have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Moreover, a 2012 study revealed that people who followed a diet rich in MUFAs from extra virgin olive oil had a lower risk of severe skin aging. The researchers recommend that the anti-inflammatory properties of both MUFAs and antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil were primarily responsible for the effect [6]. 

Experts suggest using cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil because of its higher antioxidant level and less processed compared with other oils that are extracted using other methods. This is perfect for salads or dips for chips. 

5. Green tea

Green tea is quite rich in antioxidants called polyphenols that help fight free radicals in the body. It is high in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), catechins and gallic acid – all of which are helpful in reducing your risk of developing heart disease, neurological decline, premature aging and other chronic diseases. 

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Additionally, green tea’s polyphenols help reduce external skin aging caused by environmental stressors, such as the sun and pollution. Polyphenols act against stressors by scavenging free radicals before they can even damage the skin. 

In fact, the powerful anti-aging properties of green tea have influenced many skin care products these days. They use green tea extracts as one of the primary ingredients for their formulation. With its slow-aging properties, regular drinking of green tea can be associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease and healthier skin; hence, it is recommended to add it to your diet. 

Research shows that people who drank the most green tea, about five or more cups per day, were essentially less likely to die during the study period [7]. They observed exactly 40,530 Japanese adults over 11 years. 

Also, keeping you alert is one surprising effect of drinking green tea because of its key active ingredient, caffeine, which is a known stimulant. Caffeine can affect the brain by blocking adenosine – an inhibitory neurotransmitter. 

The bottom line

At the end of the day, aging is inevitable – we may be able to delay it, but sooner or later, our body will experience its signs. Antioxidants can only help us further enjoy a quality of life while we get older each year. 

If you are thinking of ensuring to get an adequate level of antioxidants, eating avocados, fatty fish, walnuts and extra virgin olive oil and drinking green tea are the best ways to go. Many health experts recommend regularly consuming them to keep your health in check. 

The goal is not just to reduce the physical signs of aging, but rather to improve your overall wellness, including better cognitive function, fewer sick days and stronger bones. Achieving longevity comes with better health because just breathing is not an ideal state when you reach 80. It is more about having longer years of life where you can still do a lot of things with minimal medical conditions. 

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[1] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants
[2] https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-flavonoids 
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8308533/ 
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24955642/ 
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32802255/ 
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22970231/ 
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16968850/ 

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