how to eat more antioxidants: top 10 antioxidant-rich foods to add to your daily diet

How to Eat More Antioxidants: Top 10 Antioxidant-rich Foods for Your Daily Diet

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radical cell damage in your body, helping protect against disease. Free radicals, which we can be exposed to from a wide variety of sources like pollution, ultra-processed foods, stress, and environmental toxins, are compounds that can cause harm if their levels in the body become too high. They have been linked to a variety of illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as chronic inflammation. 


Wondering how to eat more antioxidants? Incorporating a range of antioxidant-rich foods into your daily diet is all that you need to help your body fight free radicals and reduce the risk of disease. The Mediterranean diet is a great guide to eat more antioxidants to help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation.

How can I increase my antioxidants?

While your body has its own antioxidant defenses, antioxidants can also be found in food, especially plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, certain oils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. While meat and fish technically contain antioxidants, as all living things have some sort of natural antioxidant defense system, the amount is much smaller than in plant foods. A few examples you may already be familiar with are vitamin C and vitamin E. Flavonoids are another type of antioxidant found in plants. 


What foods should I choose to eat more antioxidants? 

Read on to learn about the top 10 foods that you should include as a regular part of your diet to eat more antioxidants.


1. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich anthocyanins, a group of flavonoids that are pigments that impart a deep red, blue, purple, or black hue. Anthocyanins have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure, better brain health, and slowed growth of cancer, to name a few of the major benefits. Enjoy fresh or frozen blueberries as a regular part of your diet.

Try our Avocado and Blueberry Toast for a breakfast or snack packed with antioxidants. 

blueberries - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


2. Strawberries

Strawberries are a good source of glutathione—aka the “master antioxidant.”  Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants and plays an important role in detoxification and fighting inflammation. While it directly works on free radicals, it also has been shown to deal with the sources of those free radicals, such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants, which are toxic chemicals we may be exposed to through food or our environment.

We love a Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn Olive Oil Cake or a Strawberry, Fennel and Pecorino Salad for a healthy dose of strawberries in our daily diet.

strawberries - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


3. Raspberries

Raspberries are also packed with anthocyanins. Like blueberries, enjoy them fresh or frozen and use liberally in dishes like cereal, oatmeal, yogurt bowls, and homemade baked goods and healthy desserts.  

raspberries - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


4. Olive Oil

Olive oil contains many antioxidant compounds, such as oleacein and other hydroxytyrosol derived polyphenols. Oleacein, for example, has been linked in studies to anti-inflammatory effects, heart health benefits, neuroprotective effects, anti-cancer potential, and benefits to metabolic health. Extra virgin olive oil contains larger amounts of polyphenols, as heat processing diminishes them. Use it as your main cooking oil and as a dressing or garnish for all kinds of dishes. (Here are 12 ways to use olive oil). For an antioxidant drink, try our Pear Mango Olive Oil smoothie

high phenolic olive oil - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


5. Coffee 

Coffee contains a wide variety of antioxidants such as hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols that have been linked to health benefits such as reduced risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, liver cirrhosis, and certain cancers. Decaffeinated coffee also appears to offer some protection, so those who don’t tolerate caffeine can still benefit. 

If you'd like to transform your morning coffee into an antioxidant drink, try our Polyphenol Spiced Latte

coffee - - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


6. Green tea

Green tea contains a variety of polyphenols like carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, and epigallocatechin gallate (aka EGCG) that have been shown to protect against heart disease and some cancers. It also is a source of other powerful plant compounds like L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes concentration and relaxation. 

green tea - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods



7. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid found in pink and red plant foods. Cell, animal, and human studies have linked lycopene to reduced cardiovascular disease risk, reduced risk of certain cancers, and offer protection against free radical cell damage. Lycopene may even protect against sun damage, but it’s not a substitute for sunscreen. Enjoy tomatoes raw or cooked. 

Add more tomatoes to your daily diet with a delicious Bruschetta appetizer, a Caprese Salad or a refreshing Golden Tomato and Peach salad

tomatoes - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


8. Spinach

Spinach contains a variety of antioxidants and is an especially good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that have been linked to eye health. Lutein also has been shown to protect heart health. Chopped, raw spinach appears to provide more antioxidants than cooked but in general, the important thing is eating the spinach in the first place . 

spinach - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


9. Red and Purple Cabbage

Red and purple cabbage contain carotenoids, and flavonoid antioxidants like anthocyanins and kaempferol and in higher amounts than green cabbage. Like other cruciferous vegetables, they also are a source of sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound that’s been linked to protection against heart disease and cancer. Enjoy it raw and shredded in a salad or healthy slaw or  cooked. Cabbage can be added to soups, roasted, sauteed, or even grilled. 

red cabbage, purple cabbage - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


10. Beans

Beans are another rich source of antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. While the specific antioxidant content depends on the type of bean (for example, beans with red or black hues have more anthocyanins than light colored beans), all beans offer some. They also contain fiber and plant-based protein, which can make simple meals like soups and salads more filling. 

Try our Green Butter Bean Hummus for a delicious snack or appetizer. 

beans - how to eat more antioxidants -  top 10 antioxidant-rich foods


Keep in mind, this is not a complete list. Incorporate a wide variety of plant foods into your diet to eat more antioxidants and enjoy a range of benefits. Something else to note about antioxidants is that, while supplemental forms are available, they are not a replacement for a healthy diet, and  too much of a good thing is also possible. High-dose antioxidant supplements may interact with some medications and, in some cases, have been linked to health risks. For example beta-carotene supplementation has been linked to increased lung cancer risk in smokers. Additionally, supplemental forms may not be as effective as food sources. More research is needed to fully understand this distinction. For now, enjoy lots of naturally colorful plant foods as part of your regular diet. 

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