Antioxidant rich foods are essential for a healthy and long life. These foods are natural to eat and have so many health benefits.
Antioxidants are generally phytochemical substances that help protect cells against the unfavourable effects of free radicals. Antioxidants are known to neutralise the free radicals and impart longevity to the cells. A healthy body is usually characterised by high antioxidant activity and low oxidative stress leading to good health.
Without much debate, we would agree that fresh, unprocessed food would rank higher in the antioxidant profile as compared to preserved processed or packed foods.
Here in this article, we would like to highlight the potential 20 antioxidant rich foods. Include these foods as much as possible in your daily meals with ease and experience the burst in your energy levels and cellular ageing signs fade off.
1. Microgreens –
Vegetable greens that are harvested immediately post the cotyledon leaves have developed are known as Microgreens. These are mostly 3-4 inch tiny shoots/growth from various types of seeds.
The most common varieties of microgreens grown would be radish, garlic, onion, arugula, carrot, spinach, wheat, fenugreek, beans, legumes, cereals, etc.
Microgreens are a rich source of powerful antioxidants ranging from beta-carotene, phylloquinone, tocopherols, violaxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, chlorophyll, etc. Microgreen not only elevates the nutrient quotient when added to your routine food but also appears to add a visual delight when added as a garnish over salads, saute veggies, starters, sandwiches etc.
2. Wheatgrass –
It is grown from wheat(cereal), and its use became popular since the beginning of 21 st century. The nutrient density of Wheatgrass is at least 20 to 25 times more as compared to that any other vegetable.
Chew it or juice it to get the powerful vitamins A, minerals and chlorophyll in high concentration. Don’t forget to add Wheatgrass in your diet today.
3. Vegetables –
In general, Vegetables have always known to be high in antioxidants. Vegetables like pumpkins, eggplant, artichokes, water chestnut, drumsticks, cabbage, corn, beans, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, bell peppers and capsicums all have potent antioxidants.
Different coloured vegetables are known to have different colouring pigment that again acts as antioxidants.
4. Green leafy –
Green Leafy Vegetables (GLV’s) like spinach, amaranth, shepu, saag, bathua, parsley, radish greens, beet greens, kale, lettuce, turnip greens, etc. have loads of antioxidants.
The class of antioxidant Xanthophyll viz. lutein is synthesised only by plants and found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables. Lignans are also present in plenty in GLV’s.
5. Beet –
Beetroots contain a group of antioxidants called betalains that have been linked to outstanding health benefits. They are a rich source of folate, minerals and polyphenols.
Beets are also high in nitrates that your body converts into Nitric Oxide and the health benefits associated are in plenty.
Beetroot is specifically beneficial to help improve athletic performance.
6. Tomato –
Tomato is one of the readily available antioxidant rich foods primarily used as a vegetable in Indian cooking. Tomatoes are rich in Lycopene which imparts the dense red colour to Tomato. It is known to be good for heart health and tissues/skin and also suitable for prostate health.
7. Garlic Or Onion –
Allicin, a sulphur compound, is the main component present in this category and is primarily known to increase immunity. These are also rich in flavonoids like quercetin, fisetin, kaempferol, polyphenols and anthocyanins (antioxidants). Along with this, it has vitamin E, co-enzyme Q10 and prebiotic fibres.
8. Nuts & seeds –
Power-packed nuts & seeds are considered a powerhouse of antioxidants. They contain antioxidants like omega-three fatty acids, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper, manganese and polyphenols.
The top 3 antioxidant-rich nuts would be Walnuts, Pecans and Pistachios and the top 3 antioxidant-rich seeds that score high in the antioxidant profile are Garden cress seeds, Watermelon seeds and Sunflower seeds.
9. Fruits –
All sort of fruits can be considered a miracle for humanity. Fruits with exceptional Vitamin C content rank higher, followed by fruits rich in Vitamin A in the antioxidant category.
Some fruits also have the minuscule presence of Vitamin E, again a potent antioxidant, but not very commonly found in fruits. Avocados, Guava, Figs, Blackberries, Peaches, Papaya, Watermelon etc. have nutrient proportion (antioxidants) far exceeding commonly available fruits like Apple and Banana.
Though all fruits have their benefits (and antioxidants) but some fruits require special mention in the antioxidant category.
10. Amla –
Amla or Indian Gooseberry is believed to be a potent rejuvenating agent. It is one of the richest sources of antioxidant vitamin C and contains polyphenols as antioxidants which regulates BP and relaxes the mind and body.
Eating an amla daily during winters is known to boost immunity. It is also known to reduce post-workout oxidative stress and relieves muscle soreness.
11. Red Grapes –
Red grape skin, along with their seeds, is a good source of powerful phytochemical antioxidant Resveratrol. It is a powerful antioxidant known to reduce inflammation and increase immunity.
Red grapes are also known to be a potent antifungal. Some other flavonoids like Myricetin and Quercetin are also found in grapes along with vitamin A, C, magnesium and selenium, all-powerful antioxidants.
12. Mangoes –
The King of Fruits, Mango brims with a rich profile of antioxidants. It is one of the most abundant sources of betacarotene or vitamin A. Along with it, the other antioxidants present are vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folate, Zinc.
13. Berries –
All berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, goji berries, blackcurrants, acai berries etc. contain the antioxidant ascorbic acid commonly known as vitamin C which is potent to build immunity and ward off seasonal flu’s, cold and cough. Berries also act as prebiotic again strengthening the gut and hence the resistance.
14. Kiwi/Dragonfruit –
The powerful antioxidants present in Kiwi and Dragonfruit are Vitamin A, C and E along with folate, zinc and carotenoids. Both these fruits also have an enormous amount of prebiotic fibre good for the gut.
Kiwi and Dragonfruit are known to raise platelets and customarily suggested to be used in case of Dengue.
15. Pomegranate –
The fruit which is known as Red Rubies by many is one powerhouse of antioxidants. It contains antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E. There are bioactive polyphenols also present in Pomegranate that acts as an antioxidant.
The polyphenol, Ellagitannin found in Pomegranate may inhibit prostate cancer.
16. Green Tea –
One of the recent time fad used by fitness enthusiast world over is Green Tea. Polyphenols in Green Tea include catechins, theaflavins, tannins and other flavonoids. Catechins (a particular type of flavonoids) is what makes this tea a perfect part of antioxidant rich foods.
The potent catechin present in Green Tea is known as EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate). It has numerous health benefits ranging from improving your metabolism to helping you in weight loss.
Daily consumption of 1 to 3 cups of Green Tea is found to exert positive results.
17. Dark Chocolate –
Dark chocolate is made from Cacao. It is termed as a superfood for decades. Raw Cacao contains iron, magnesium, zinc and flavonoids. This is converted into cocoa which in turn is then used to make dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has much more antioxidants than regular or milk chocolate and has more polyphenols and flavanols. Both FRAP assay and ORAC values (to determine the antioxidant level) show that dark chocolate rank high in the antioxidant profile.
18. Spices –
Spices rank highest in ORAC Value. Oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) is a measure used to define the antioxidant capacity of different foods.
Cinnamon, Cloves, Oregano, Thyme, Black pepper, Sage, Rosemary, Mace, Turmeric, Dried Ginger, Basil, Paprika, Chili powder, Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds and Peppermint all contain a high amount of total phenolic compounds.
19. Moringa –
It is cited to be one of the most recent health snippets by many health experts. Like Spirulina, that took centre stage a few decades back, this decade will see many harbouring the health benefits of Moringa.
Antioxidants in Moringa are primarily vitamin A, C and host of vital minerals. Moringa powder, drinks and capsules are the new rages in the health market. High in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and chlorophyll, Moringa is a must-have in today’s time.
20. Tulsi –
Since centuries, Tulsi is known as an anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-coagulant, anti-allergic, anti-emetic etc.
It is a well-known fact that day to day use of Tulsi helps to balance the body equilibrium and support the body response to everyday stressors. Hence, Tulsi is known as a powerful adaptogen, since ages.
Beta carotene is one of the antioxidant presents in the Tulsi. Some of the phytochemical compounds in Tulsi are ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, eugenol, linalool, etc.
You can trust the humble Tulsi not just to offer you potential health benefits but also miraculously help you tackle any minor health issues effectively.
I hope you like reading the list of antioxidant rich foods which are necessary to know from a health perspective.
Kamna Desai is a Clinical Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist, Public Health Specialist and Certified Diabetes Educator by profession. She did her Post Grad in Dietetics from the prestigious IHMCTAN, Mumbai and has been active professionally for last 18 years. She is very passionate about health & nutrition and everything that surrounds food. You can check out her page of Facebook Page NutritionQuest.