6 Healthy foods with highest concentration of antioxidants

Every day, your body’s cells face and fight threats. You are at risk daily of acquiring different viruses, infections, and free radicals that can damage your DNA and cells.

While some cells can heal, some cannot; hence, you need strong protection and immunity. This is where the antioxidants step in, as they can help you limit or stop the damage caused by free radicals. 

Antioxidants can be man-made, like dietary supplements, or come from natural substances such as fruits and vegetables.

Generally, antioxidants can be linked to a lowered risk of chronic oxidative stress-related diseases, including heart diseases, cancer, and death. Adding antioxidants to your diet is recommended. 

What food has the highest antioxidant?

Let’s explore and unveil the top contenders of antioxidant-rich foods, helping you make informed choices to promote your health and vitality. Let’s delve into the fascinating realm of foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants.

1. Berries 

Considered the crown jewels of summer, berries have dominated our pastry industry with their popularity in pies, parfaits, cobblers, ice cream, and the like.

Surprisingly, berries – such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries – are not just for desserts but also for fighting diseases, with their super-healthy antioxidant component. 

Experts suggest that a cup of berries can provide you with disease-fighting antioxidants that your body needs daily.

Berries are considered a nutritional powerhouse with their essential vitamins and nutrients.

One study revealed that regular consumption of berries could significantly reduce your body’s inflammation levels and vastly decrease your risk of developing heart diseases and various types of cancer [1].

Berries have strong health-promoting properties with exceptional levels of antioxidants, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and vitamin C.

Two of the berries with the highest concentration of vital compounds are blackcurrants and blueberries [2]. 

berries

2. Dark chocolate 

Consider adding dark chocolate to your snack because it is rich in antioxidants! Everyone may not like dark chocolate’s bitter taste, but you may want to consider it as it is one of the healthiest items in the sweets corner. It has lower added sugar and fat compared to milk or white chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains two to three times more flavonol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate. 

dark chocolate

With its main ingredient of cocoa powder, dark chocolate is rich in dietary sources of flavonoids, such as catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins.

These compounds can help decrease inflammation levels, support heart health, and contribute to bettering your immune responses. 

Particularly, flavanols refer to a type of flavonoid that is found in plants like the cacao tree, whose beans are used to produce chocolate.

It also links to the production of nitric oxide, which can relax your blood vessels and enhance blood flow, leaving you with lower blood pressure.

Furthermore, flavanols are found to be beneficial in fighting cell damage, which is associated with aging [3].

Cocoa consumption can have a positive impact on insulin resistance, cognitive function, and mood, according to the review published by Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity [4].

However, the more processed the dark chocolate is, the fewer antioxidant components it has. Hence, better to choose minimal processed dark chocolate for a higher cocoa content. 

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3. Dark green leafy vegetables 

Another food that is rich in antioxidants is dark green leafy vegetables, like cabbage, kale, spinach, and lettuce.

These vegetables are low in calories and dietary fats and can also provide a huge amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. 

Dark green leafy vegetables are more beneficial than you may think, as they have two powerful carotenoid antioxidants, which are lutein and zeaxanthin.

These two are good for your eye health as they can absorb blue light, which can damage your eyes when entered.

Lutein and zeaxanthin can protect your eye’s vital components from degeneration. Dark green leafy vegetables’ carotenoids-antioxidants can also aid in protecting your cells and play roles in blocking the early formulation of cancer.

With their B-vitamin content, green leafy vegetables help promote heart health and prevent birth defects [5]. 

Moreover, spinach – as one of the very good examples of dark green leafy vegetables – has a high antioxidant component, and when taken regularly, it can decrease your risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and several types of cancer [6]. 

dark green leafy vegetables

4. Artichokes

This delicious and nutritious vegetable has a long history. People from ancient times utilized artichoke leaves to treat liver conditions like jaundice.

Artichokes are also a good source of dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, according to the FRAP analysis, artichokes have up to 4.7 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces or 100 grams [7].

Additionally, artichokes are particularly rich in chlorogenic acid, a type of antioxidant. Some studies revealed that chlorogenic acid’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits could decrease the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

Artichoke is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and inulin – a type of prebiotic fiber. It was shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties with its antioxidant components, such as vitamin C, hydroxycinnamic acids, polyphenols, and flavonoids.

In fact, eating one artichoke can provide you with 25 percent of the suggested daily intake of vitamin C, which can lower your risk of developing lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Artichokes’ antioxidant content varies based on how they are prepared and cooked. When you boil artichokes, their antioxidants increase by eight times, and with steaming, you can raise their antioxidants by 15 times.

While some cooking methods can increase the antioxidant content of artichokes, some, like frying them, can decrease their content.

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5. Beetroots 

Beetroots, also called beets, refer to the roots of a vegetable known as Beta vulgaris. They generally have a mild taste and are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, such as fiber, potassium, iron, folate, and antioxidants. 

Count beetroots in foods that are high in antioxidants, as they are one of the best and most rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenols.

In the FRAP analysis, beetroots are said to have up to 1.7 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces or 100 grams.

Beetroots have a high amount of nitrates, compounds that positively affect your body’s functioning and cardiovascular system.

Plus, beetroots are abundant in betalains and polyphenols that give them purple or reddish coloring. 

Beetroots offer a wide range of health benefits when added to your everyday diet. They can lower your inflammation levels, enhance your cognition, improve blood pressure, and vastly decrease your risk of developing several types of cancer.

According to a study, beetroots are scientifically proven to improve sports performance if you happen to be a sports athlete [8].

6. Nuts 

We know nuts have many calories and dietary fats, but they still offer a wide range of health benefits.

In fact, regular consumption of nuts can lower your risk of developing chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, gallstones, obesity, and type 2 diabetes [9].

Nuts have health benefits because of their contents of different carotenoids, phytosterols, plant steroids, and ellagic acids with potent antioxidant properties.

Among the variety of nuts, tree nuts, walnuts, pecans and chestnuts are the ones with the highest contents of antioxidants. Moreover, walnuts and pecans have shown a higher ability to scavenge free radicals. 

Walnuts are recorded to have 20 mmol antioxidants per 100 grams, which is commonly found in walnut pellicles. They are loaded with antioxidants, plus they are low in sodium and sugar.

Not only that, walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids compared to other kinds of nuts. Adding walnuts to your snack may help in making you feel full throughout the day. 

Almonds are also a type of nut which are considerably high in antioxidants. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that contribute to your overall wellness.

Particularly, almonds help protect you against oxidative stress, which can further lead to inflammation, aging, and cardiovascular diseases when neglected. 

nuts

How can I add antioxidants to my diet?

Health experts strongly recommend developing healthy eating habits and having a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.

The majority of fruits and vegetables produced have natural antioxidants that give you positive health benefits. They primarily contain minerals, fiber, and other vitamins to help you fight fatal diseases. 

However, some people may choose to take antioxidant supplements instead. This is not currently advisable because there are many studies proving supplements have little to no effect that is similar to eating fresh fruits and vegetables in terms of antioxidant intake.

Hence, consuming the six foods that have the highest antioxidant contents is still what works best. 

You can also check the table cited in this sentence for more food options that contain antioxidants [10].

Final takeaways

Prioritizing foods with high antioxidant content is a smart and delicious way to support your overall health.

Blueberries, dark chocolate, spinach, artichokes, nuts, and green tea offer a diverse range of antioxidants, each with its unique benefits.

Incorporating these foods into your daily diet not only helps combat oxidative stress but also enhances your immune system, promotes heart health, and may even slow down the aging process.

Remember, a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, is a powerful recipe for longevity and well-being.

So, embark on this flavorful journey towards better health, one antioxidant-packed meal at a time.

FAQs

What food has the highest antioxidant?

Blueberries are known to have one of the highest antioxidant levels among all foods.

What are the most powerful antioxidants?

Among the most potent antioxidants are substances like astaxanthin, resveratrol, and CoQ10, which are found in foods like salmon, red grapes, and spinach.

What foods are real antioxidants?

Real antioxidant-rich foods include berries, dark leafy greens, nuts, and dark chocolate, which are naturally abundant in these beneficial compounds.

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[1] https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/16/10/24673 
[2] https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/antioxidants-in-fruits 
[3] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-chocolate-health-benefits/ 
[4] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2012/906252/ 
[5] https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-articles/2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/
[6] https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/FO/C6FO00051G 
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20096093/ 
[8] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/4/2801 
[9] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/12/1311 
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/table/T1/ 

Photograph: Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock
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