Berries are so commonly opted for their rich store of antioxidant polyphenols that you might forget they’re not the only ones. Berries, indeed, come out on top of nearly 3100 foods measured for antioxidant content in studies. However, the world of antioxidants does not stop at berries.
Although berries are the kings of antioxidant polyphenol content, here are a few alternatives that would suit your diet just fine.1
Can’t start the day without coffee? Go ahead – it’ll boost your antioxidant intake! Coffee has polyphenols called chlorogenic acids. But according to a 2010 study, non-dairy creamer and sugar decreases the absorption of these, so limit both. Go for whole milk instead.2 If you hate black coffee but don’t drink dairy, try any of the plain nondairy milk options.
Tea is another antioxidant-rich drink your body will love. Plus, compared to bottled iced tea, brewing it at home is much healthier. Green tea is the richest source. But don’t forget about black tea, especially when you need a pick-me-up.3
3. Red Wine
Wine lovers will be happy to know about this. Specifically, red wine has the most antioxidants, even more than green tea.4 But don’t forget about moderation. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day, and women should have no more than 1.5 Anything more “cancels” out the wine’s benefits.
4. Citrus Fruits
From oranges to lemons, citrus fruits are packed with polyphenols. Even the skin is healthy, so why not add some zest to your baked good and meals?6 Don’t limit yourself to smoothies and salads. Citrus fruits and zest can be added to savory meals, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy chocolate, a top source of antioxidants. Just be sure to choose the right kind – the more cocoa, the better. White chocolate has very little of polyphenols compared to dark chocolate.7 It’s a great reason to splurge on quality chocolate minus the refined sugar.
6. Red Onions
Compared to yellow onions, red onions have more antioxidants. The outer layers of the onions also have the highest levels.8 Luckily, onions can be used in almost every recipe. Most meals need them, so opt the red ones when possible.
Soybeans are another top choice, but don’t depend on processed foods. Soy milk, for example, has significantly less antioxidants compared to full beans.9 Next time you’re out for sushi, order some edamame!
Benefits Of Antioxidant Polyphenols
Polyphenols make up the most of our antioxidant intake. Plants are the best sources, explaining why fruits and veggies are so healthy. As antioxidants, polyphenols fight oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals.10 These are unstable molecules that have an unpaired electrons, so they’re always searching for one more. They can steal an electron from other molecules, thus creating another free radical. And so it continues.
This process can damage DNA, thus turning into a reason behind diseases like cancer and heart disease. However, antioxidants are so stable that they can donate electrons and neutralize free radicals. They’re basically helpful, generous donors.
Berries are some of the top sources, and there’s no harm in loving them. However, don’t limit yourself, because diversity is delicious.
|↑1, ↑3, ↑4, ↑7||Carlsen, Monica H., Bente L. Halvorsen, Kari Holte, Siv K. Bøhn, Steinar Dragland, Laura Sampson, Carol Willey et al. “The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.” Nutrition journal 9, no. 1 (2010): 3.|
|↑2||Renouf, Mathieu, Cynthia Marmet, Philippe Guy, Anne-Lise Fraering, Karin Longet, Julie Moulin, Marc Enslen et al. “Nondairy creamer, but not milk, delays the appearance of coffee phenolic acid equivalents in human plasma.” The Journal of nutrition 140, no. 2 (2010): 259-263.|
|↑5||Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.|
|↑6||Rafiq, Shafiya, Rajkumari Kaul, S. A. Sofi, Nadia Bashir, Fiza Nazir, and Gulzar Ahmad Nayik. “Citrus peel as a source of functional ingredient: a review.” Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences (2016).|
|↑8||Cheng, Anwei, Xiangyan Chen, Qiong Jin, WenLiang Wang, John Shi, and Yaobo Liu. “Comparison of phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of red and yellow onions.” Czech Journal of Food Science 31, no. 5 (2013).|
|↑9||Manach, Claudine, Augustin Scalbert, Christine Morand, Christian Rémésy, and Liliana Jiménez. “Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79, no. 5 (2004): 727-747.|
|↑10||Scalbert, Augustin, Ian T. Johnson, and Mike Saltmarsh. “Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 81, no. 1 (2005): 215S-217S.|