Stress, unhealthy food, solar radiation, pollution, smoking, consumption of drugs or alcohol can form dangerous amounts of free radicals that damage the DNA and causes aging and deadly diseases, like cancer. Free radicals are dangerous molecules that accumulate in your body and cause serious health conditions.
Vitamins C and E, also known as antioxidants, are proven to protect the body against dangerous free radicals. They neutralize the free radicals and prevent them from causing further damage. Vitamin E is a plentiful fat-soluble antioxidant within the body and is among the prime defenders against oxidation, which is the main cause of free radical damage. Here are 10 antioxidant-rich foods that fight free radical damage.
Apricots are delicious fruits that are rich in vitamin A and C. They also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps in fighting free radicals.1 Dried apricots are a type of traditional dried fruit. Studies show that when apricots are dried, the relative concentration of nutrients is increased, with vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium and iron having daily values above 25 percent. Lycopene is the same antioxidant found in tomatoes although in smaller quantities.
Though summer is the best time to eat watermelons, they are good to be consumed all year round. They are high in water content and are rich in antioxidants. The chief antioxidant found in watermelons is lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes, watermelons, and apricots. Watermelon, rich in antioxidants and other bioactive components, may be a viable method to improve cardiovascular disease risk factors through reduced oxidative stress.2
Besides the antioxidants, they also provide many vitamins and minerals with each serving. It is effective in reducing the extent of cancer insurgence, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and macular diseases.3 Experts suggest that watermelons with deeper tones of red hold a higher concentration of lycopene.
Cherries, along with blueberries, are considered as one of the best fruits for fighting free radical damage as they have some of the highest levels of antioxidants per ounce. The most abundant antioxidant is anthocyanin, a compound that is effective in fighting free radicals.4
In many studies, cherries have shown relatively high antioxidant activity and other anti-carcinogenic effects. The best way to consume them is to select only organic cherries and eating them raw or drinking raw cherry juice, which also offers the same antioxidant benefits.
Spinach is a leafy vegetable that contains high levels of protein and fiber and is renowned for its antioxidant, beta-carotene. Studies have found that the antioxidant activity of spinach may be an effective way to ameliorate high fat and cholesterol diet-induced oxidative stress.
The antioxidants in spinach resist oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals, inhibiting cell membrane damage, and suppressing lipid peroxidation, thus preventing the onset of chronic diseases.5 It can be consumed in many ways such as smoothies, salads, or in a sandwich.
Raspberries are as tasty as they look and their high antioxidant content helps in reducing free radical damage. Their high concentrations of phenols are known to have anti-cancer properties. Raspberries are often the main ingredient in anti-inflammatory diets and are effective in reducing joint paint associated with arthritis.
But their capacity to eliminate free radical damage is by far their best quality. Raspberries are rich in phenolic phytochemicals. Studies show that the antioxidant activity of raspberry is directly related to the total amount of phenolics and flavonoids found in them.6
Like other foods in this list, broccoli is also a rich source of powerful antioxidants. Broccoli has gained popularity as a health-promoting food as it naturally contains high levels of bioactive phytochemicals such as glucosinolates, phenolic compounds, vitamin C, and mineral nutrients. Broccoli has also been found to exhibit antioxidant activity that prevents oxidative stress related to many diseases.7
A diet rich in broccoli helps in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and carcinogenic pathologies, and breast and prostate cancers. Since it is also rich in fiber, it promotes healthy bowel movements and keeps your digestive tract clean.
Kale contains more nutritional value than spinach and is known to help improve blood glucose control in diabetes, lower the risk of cancer, reduce blood pressure, and help prevent the development of asthma. Kale contains an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, which can help lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.8 Kale is best consumed raw in salads or other dishes as boiling raw kale diminishes most of its nutrients except for vitamin K.9
8. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as phenolic compounds, which are important antioxidant components that may reduce the risk of diseases.10 Antioxidants are micronutrients that have the ability to neutralize free radicals or their actions. The color of the bell pepper is what gives it its antioxidant content. Irrespective of their color – red, yellow, orange, or green – they are all loaded with antioxidants.
Though strawberries and blueberries are more popular, blackberries also contain almost the same levels of antioxidants. Research has shown that blackberries are notable for their health benefits based on high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, and the essential mineral, manganese.
Blackberries also rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their high contents of phenolic compounds. Studies have shown that after blueberries, blackberries contained high levels of antioxidants and also had a relatively high anthocyanidin content.11
10. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and also provide an antioxidant effect on the body. Since kidney beans are loaded with manganese, it helps the body produce and maintain its antioxidant level. Studies reveal that consuming kidney beans, especially the red variety, may have potential in preventing the development of atherosclerosis (a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries) from the perspective of inhibiting LDL oxidation.12 They not only make a tasty dish by themselves but can also be mixed with other beans in a salad.
|↑1||Yiğit, D., N. Yiğit, and A. Mavi. “Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of bitter and sweet apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) kernels.” Brazilian Journal of Medical and biological research 42, no. 4 (2009): 346-352.|
|↑2||Hong, Mee Young, Nicole Hartig, Katy Kaufman, Shirin Hooshmand, Arturo Figueroa, and Mark Kern. “Watermelon consumption improves inflammation and antioxidant capacity in rats fed an atherogenic diet.” Nutrition Research 35, no. 3 (2015): 251-258.|
|↑3||Naz, Ambreen, Masood Sadiq Butt, Muhammad Tauseef Sultan, Mir Muhammad Nasir Qayyum, and Rai Shahid Niaz. “Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims.” EXCLI journal 13 (2014): 650.|
|↑4||McCune, Letitia M., Chieri Kubota, Nicole R. Stendell-Hollis, and Cynthia A. Thomson. “Cherries and health: a review.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 51, no. 1 (2010): 1-12.|
|↑5||Ko, Sang-Heui, Jae-Hee Park, So-Yun Kim, Seon Woo Lee, Soon-Sil Chun, and Eunju Park. “Antioxidant effects of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) supplementation in hyperlipidemic rats.” Preventive nutrition and food science 19, no. 1 (2014): 19.|
|↑6||Liu, Ming, Xin Qi Li, Courtney Weber, Chang Yong Lee, Janice Brown, and Rui Hai Liu. “Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of raspberries.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 50, no. 10 (2002): 2926-2930.|
|↑7||Hwang, Joon-Ho, and Sang-Bin Lim. “Antioxidant and anticancer activities of broccoli by-products from different cultivars and maturity stages at harvest.” Preventive nutrition and food science 20, no. 1 (2015): 8.|
|↑8||Alpha-lipoic acid. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014.|
|↑9||Sikora, Elżbieta, and Izabela Bodziarczyk. “Composition and antioxidant activity of kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala) raw and cooked.” Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Technologia Alimentaria 11, no. 3 (2012): 239-248.|
|↑10||Shotorbani, Narmin Yazdizadeh, Rashid Jamei, and Reza Heidari. “Antioxidant activities of two sweet pepper Capsicum annuum L. varieties phenolic extracts and the effects of thermal treatment.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine 3, no. 1 (2013): 25.|
|↑11||Huang, Wu-yang, Hong-cheng Zhang, Wen-xu Liu, and Chun-yang Li. “Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing.” Journal of Zhejiang University-Science B 13, no. 2 (2012): 94-102.|
|↑12||Xu, B. J., S. H. Yuan, and S. K. C. Chang. “Comparative Studies on the Antioxidant Activities of Nine Common Food Legumes Against Copper‐Induced Human Low‐Density Lipoprotein Oxidation In Vitro.” Journal of food science 72, no. 7 (2007).|