Foods High In Antioxidants – The A-Z Of Antioxidant Rich Foods
If you are looking for items to include in your diet in order to make it full of antioxidants, then here’s a list of anti-oxidant rich foods from A to Z just for you.
“Treat your body like a temple.” We have heard this quote numerous times, but how many of us actually follow it? Close to none. Taking health related issues lightly and brushing off symptoms of underlying medical conditions under the carpet is a common practice for most of us. We often think, it’ll be okay and get on with our busy lives, not knowing how easy prevention of a few diseases is, with just a few changes in our food habits. One of them is including foods rich in antioxidants in our diet.
Let’s explain how do anti oxidants work. Our body produces unstable chemicals called free radicals due to the process of oxidation. These free radicals damage the cell membranes which is linked to lots of diseases like cancer and cardiovascular conditions (heart disease). To reduce the number of free radicals in the body, anti-oxidants play a crucial part. Say what you will, antioxidants have made themselves an essential part of everyone’s diet, all thanks to their free-radical scavenging nature. According to research, free-radicals, or free-oxygen atoms, are usually found in the blood and tend to combine with healthy cells in the body. This results in the exertion of oxidative stress over the cell walls, which further causes free-radical induced damage to the cell. This is where antioxidants would come in as an ultimate saviour. Here is a list of foods that are rich in antioxidants and must be included in your diet to improve your overall health.
List Of Foods Rich In Antioxidants
Our body is made up of trillions of cells that need fresh, clean food to keep healthy. Oxidative stress on our body and excessive free radicals in our body can lead to chronic ailments like heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that antioxidant supplements do not work as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Anti-oxidants are naturally available in a wide range of foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals. Here is the complete guide for foods high in antioxidants – The A-Z of food items that you’ll need to add to your daily diet.
A For An Apple A Day
Everyone is aware of the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ and indeed there is a good reason behind that statement. Being a good source of vitamin C, apples can act as an adequate source of antioxidants, since vitamins are common antioxidants found in fruits. Over 7,500 varieties of apples are available throughout the world. Some of them are – Fuji apples, golden apples, green apples and granny smith apples.
How To Include Apples In Your Diet – Apples are excellent for your health and must be included in your diet. Apples are a delicious fruit that can be eaten as it is, in a dessert or in a fruit chaat. Apples can be given to small children as a mushy stew. Apples also turn into a yummy smoothie.
A for artichokes – Artichokes are a vegetable which is not commonly found in India but is rich in antioxidants. Artichokes can be steamed, fried or boiled. Moreover, boiling artichokes can increase the antioxidant content by 8 times, while steaming artichokes may increase it by 15 times.
B For Benefits From Broccoli
Green veggies are commonly hailed as the holy grail of healthy foods, and broccoli is one of them. One of the main antioxidants present in broccoli is vitamin E (which is also present in most greens), apart from that, it contains a compound called lutein and another volatile compound named sulforaphane, both of which act as potent antioxidants. Rich in calcium, broccoli is very good for your health.
How To Include Broccoli In Your Diet – Feeding greens to the family is a hard task. You can use broccoli in the following ways – Steamed broccoli, broccoli soup, spinach and broccoli pasta sauce, broccoli cutlets or include broccoli in stir fries. If you want to give broccoli an Indian twist, swap the regular cauliflower and turn it into an aloo-broccoli dish.
B for blueberries – Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins which are responsible for the beautiful blue color of these berries. These anti oxidants can help prevent cell damage which will lead to prevention of diseases like cancer.
Fresh and dried blueberries are equally tasty and can be found at a handful of exclusive grocery stores in India. Eating blueberries can also improve heart health.
Anti oxidants found in blueberries can help delay the deterioration of brain function during old age.
C For Chia Seeds
A modern day superfood, that has been used since ancient times. Anyone can be fooled by the minute appearance of these seeds. Despite its small structure, chia seeds are particularly loaded with antioxidants. The high antioxidant content of chia seeds helps in deterring the fats which are present in the seeds from going rancid. Chia seeds are a brilliant source of many nutrients and antioxidants which help in fighting the free radicals which in turn prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease.
How To Include Chia Seeds In Your Diet – You can sprinkle chia seeds on top of your smoothies, juices, yogurt or oatmeal. You can turn it into a parfait. Make sure you ask a healthcare professional about the dosage of chia seeds in your daily digest, as there are side effects if you consume them in excessive amounts.
D For Dates
Dates (Khajur) are popular for their antioxidant content, in fact, most of the benefits corresponding with the incorporation of dates into one’s diet are linked with their antioxidant-loaded nature, which includes its disease-fighting ability. Apart from antioxidants, dates are also rich in minerals that help in the regulation of blood pressure and the promotion of cardiovascular health. A regulated blood pressure ensures good heart health. Read more about the benefits of dates for heart health.
How To Include Dates In Your Diet – Foods like fresh dates can be used to sweeten your beverages, added in a salad or as a sweetener in your desserts. Dried dates are hard and shrivelled and can be hard to consume.
D for dark chocolate – Dark chocolate also contains many anti-oxidant rich properties. Dark chocolate is full of several compounds like flavanols and polyphenols. Dark chocolates have a long list of impressive health benefits. Dark chocolate is available in a variety of bitterness levels and flavors for you to choose from.
E For Edamame
This fresh green vegetable is known for its healthy protein and high fiber content. But, apart from its other nutritional content, edamame (fresh green soybean) is loaded with vitamin K, a well-known antioxidant that can help in lowering the overall oxidative stress in the body as well as lower the tissue’s inflammatory response, thus giving it both properties of an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent.
How Can You Eat Edamame – Fiber rich edamame can be used to make scrumptious salads, added into stir fries or even use it in South Indian style curries.
F For Flaxseeds
It is quite common for one to think of vegetables and fruits whenever one hears the term ‘antioxidant-rich food,’ however other food items, such as flaxseeds appear to be high on the ladder as well. Its antioxidant content is most commonly associated with the promotion of one’s cardiovascular health and for the decrease in the blood’s insulin resistance, thus preventing the blood sugar levels from spiking up. Flaxseeds are also a good source of Lignans which have been known to help in cancer prevention. Flaxseeds can help lower cholesterol levels which can prevent chronic heart disease.
How Can You Eat Flaxseeds – Now that you know about the multiple benefits of flaxseeds, read about how to eat flaxseeds and how can you incorporate them in your daily diet. They can be used in a variety of ways like dried powdered form, whole or in a roasted snack mix.
G For Grapes
POP and gone! Commonly available types of grapes in India can be green, red or black in color. The most common type of antioxidant found in grapes includes polyphenols, which in turn provide the grapes with its anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols are known to aid in the reduction of the inflammatory responses of the body tissues. Resveratol, a particular type of polyphenol, is usually found in the covering of the grapes. Acting as an antioxidant helps in the protection of the body against other common diseases that concerns the heart’s health.
H For Healthy Honey
Honey, or raw honey, contains a varying concentration of antioxidants, and in some cases, it can have the same amount of antioxidants as any other fruit or vegetable. Polyphenol is the most commonly found antioxidant compound in honey that plays a vital role in deteriorating the symptoms of heart conditions, and it may also reduce the risk of cancer development, as it prevents the cells from growing uncontrollably.
Antioxidants help in strengthening our immune system and intake of these antioxidants is linked with the reduced risk of muscular degeneration too. To protect the taste and nutrition of the honey, do not heat it up. Heating up honey may put the nutrients at risk.
How To Include Honey In Your Diet – You can and should replace refined white sugar with honey in your morning tea, add it to your breakfast toast, use it as an energy drink, as a weight loss drink and even as your go-to beauty product. Replacing honey as a daily sweetener can help improve our overall health and cut down on refined sugar from our diets.
I For Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry or amla is an impressive source of vitamin C, a well-known potent antioxidant. The benefits of Indian gooseberry, due to its antioxidant content, ranges from health to beauty. Not only does the presence of antioxidants reduce the risk of free-radical damage, but it also helps the skin cells stay protected and the vitamins help in increasing their water-retention capability, thus keeping them moisturised.
How To Add Indian Gooseberry or Amla To Your Daliy Menu – Amla can be added to your meals by cooking them in ghee or as an amla candy which is easily available. Amla can be consumed in juice form too. For little kids, you can grate the amla, squeeze out the juice and make a ‘nimbu pani‘ like beverage for them in the summer. This is sure to boost immunity and help kids enjoy healthier drinks instead of carbonated colas.
J For Japanese Green Tea
The Japanese Green Tea, or Matcha, has the highest quantity of antioxidants as compared to any other type of tea. Moreover, the fact that its preparation includes the mixing of pure tea instead of its fusion makes it a much better source of antioxidants, as during the infusion a few of the nutrients of the leaves are left behind.
How To Use Matcha In Your Kitchen – Matcha tea can be used to make foods like cakes and muffins, matcha can be used to make latte and smoothies too. You can make matcha and yogurt bowls or even turn it into a creamy ice-cream.
K For Kale
Fine lines? No way! Greens to the rescue. Yet another dark green leafy addition to this list, Kale is rich with potent antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol. Apart from those, just like any other green leafy veggies, kale’s list of antioxidants includes vitamin C, beta-carotene, and various other polyphenols and flavonoids. Thus, adequate consumption of kale can help in the reduction of the overall oxidative stress on the body that further delays the occurrences of age-related concerns.
How To Use and Eat Kale – Kale and spinach can be used in salads, in smoothies, as burritos wraps or can be oven roasted to make crunchy veggie ‘chips’. Counting calories? Kale is the perfect answer for that too as it is low in calories and excellent for our health.
L For Lemon
How can a list of antioxidant-rich food be complete without the mention of lemon (nimbu)? This citrusy fruit is loaded with vitamin C, a high antioxidant fruit that can be considered as an effective free-radical scavenger. According to research, a single glass of lemon juice water each day could significantly lower the concentration of free radicals in your body.
How To Include Lemon In Your Diet – Lemon water, lemon tea, lemon juice in salad dressings, in desserts or just squeeze some on top of your dal or poha.
M For Mustard Seeds
Though known for bringing a flavorful and tasteful twist to your meal, mustard seeds can also help in providing you with an adequate supply of antioxidants. The antioxidants present in these seeds can effectively lower the concentration of cancer-causing free radicals, thus making sure that its consumption reduces the risk of cancer development.
How To Use Mustard Seeds – Mustard seeds are used widely in India to temper curries and other dishes like upma, dals, sambar, dhoklas and more. Yellow mustard seeds can be turned into a pungent coarse mustard sauce at home.
N For Nectarine
Nectarine is known to have powerful antioxidant properties, all thanks to its antioxidant content which includes vitamin C, polyphenols, and carotenoids like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin. All of these antioxidants are present in high quantities in the fruit’s skin. The presence of these antioxidants makes nectarine a great free radical scavenger that could significantly lower the concentration of free-radicals in the blood, further lower the risk of free radical damages.
N for nuts – Most commonly found nuts contain ample amount of anti-oxidants. Nuts like peanuts and almonds are rich in Vitamin E. Selenium rich Brazil nuts are also good for your health.
O For Okra
This aspect of okra (Bhindi or lady finger) is lesser-known, yet it is a great source of antioxidants. Its seeds contain catechins and flavonoid derivatives. The nutrition and antioxidant constituents of okra also give it an anti-fatigue property, since they help in preventing free radical damage, one of the main causes of fatigue from occurring.
How To Add Okra To Your Diet – Indian cooking uses lady finger or okra widely in dishes like kurkuri bhindi and bhindi ki sabzi. Many diabetic patients also consume bhindi ka paani on an empty stomach to manage their blood sugar levels.
P For Peppers
Considered to be a great flavoring ingredient as well as a nutritious addition to any dish, peppers (of all kind) have high levels of antioxidants. With antioxidants such as vitamin c and various other carotenoids, bell peppers are known to be somewhat at the top of the list containing antioxidant-rich foods that you should eat to significantly lower the free-radical concentration in your blood.
Using Bell Peppers In Your Food – Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) taste amazing raw as well as cooked. They are great for salads and canapés, add them to dips or turn them into a hearty roasted bell pepper soup. You can use them in pastas sauces, burritos or curries also.
Q For Quinoa
Quinoa is most certainly loaded with antioxidants, and in turn, these antioxidants provide quinoa with the ability to fight free radicals and adequately make it an effective anti-aging food item. Quinoa, apart from being gluten-free, has the highest quantity of antioxidants as compared to other grains or even legumes.
How To Use Quinoa – Quinoa tastes great as a salad or with a stir fried bowl of Mediterranean vegetables. Turn it into a filling chic-looking bowl with toppings like fried garlic, nuts, veggies, chickpeas and a zesty dressing.
R For Raisins
Raisin is a great source of antioxidants. Loaded with phytonutrients such as phenol and polyphenols which give them their antioxidant properties, adequate consumption of raisins can have some impressive benefits involving the protection of healthy body cells against the free radicals.
How To Include Nutrition Rich Raisins In Your Food – Raisins taste great in desserts like halwa, puddings, cookies, biscuits. Making a chutney, a pulao or a kofta recipe with the sweetness of a raisins is a common practice in Indian cooking.
S For Super Sesame Seeds
Loaded with powerful antioxidants, sesame seeds (til) are quite beneficial for reducing the risk of free-radical damage. Sesame seeds are filled with the most powerful antioxidants yet found, name phytate. Furthermore, phytate is also regarded as a highly potent anti-cancer substance. Other antioxidants present in sesame seeds include lignans, sesamin, sesamol, vitamin E and linoleate, if you think that it has too many different kinds of antioxidants, then you’ll be surprised to know that those are just half of the names!
How To Include Sesame In Your Diet – Sesame should not be consumed in large quantities, especially during the summer. You can turn sesame seeds into a tahini. It can be used to garnish Indo-Chinese food or make a classic til toast (sesame toast).
S for Spinach – Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable which is rich in antioxidants. You can consume spinach in salads and in smoothies. You can make a spinach based ‘pesto’ sauce for pasta or can stick to the good old palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese) or palak corn.
T For Tomatoes
As a rich source of vitamin C, tomatoes are great competitors for free radicals. Even after being loaded with various antioxidants such as lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin A, tomatoes contain a significantly fewer amount of calories. The amount of nutrition that tomatoes provide our bodies with, makes it worth adding to your diet to make it healthy.
Adding Tomatoes To Your Meal – Tomatoes are great in their raw form in sandwiches, burritos and salsa. Turn it into a flavorful chutney, soup, curry or have it as a vegetable juice.
U For Ugli Fruit (Tangelo)
Just like lemons and oranges, ugli fruit also comes under the category of citrusy delicacies, thus making it rich in vitamin C, which in itself is considered to be a powerful antioxidant that’ll help you fend off free radicals and maintain a healthy balance of functioning cells throughout the system. Tangelos can be used to make jams, marmalades and desserts.
V For Vinegar (Apple Cider)
Though not a great source of antioxidants, apple cider vinegar does contain a small amount of these free-radical scavengers apart from a healthy amount of amino acids. This feature of apple cider vinegar makes it a healthy addition to your salad dressings, for it will undoubtedly add up to the total antioxidant content of the meal. Sipping on ACV with warm water has become a concoction that is widely consumed to lose weight and improve the quality of hair and skin.
W For Walnuts
Walnuts or Akharot (अखरोट) have a higher antioxidant concentration than any other common nuts. Most of its antioxidant properties are the contribution of compounds such as polyphenols, melatonin, and vitamin E. Walnut, thanks to its antioxidant content, can help in the reduction of oxidative damage. Walnuts are widely used in desserts like halwas, tarts, cakes, brownies, and to make dips and chutneys too.
X For Xylitol
Xylitol is a sweetener that is used as an alternative for sugar since it has no calories and does not spike up blood sugar levels. In a 2014 study, xylitol was revealed to show some antioxidant properties. The study was done on rats that ate xylitol had higher amounts of glutathione, a type of antioxidant that helps in combating free-radicals.
Y For Yams
Yams (Jimikand), especially purple yams, are quite loaded with antioxidants. They are considered to be a great source of vitamin C too and help in both the beauty and health-care of the consumer. Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, is well-known for its ability to counteract the actions of free-radicals and reduce the risk of free-radical damage. Yams can be turned into a simple matar-jimikand sabzi or into a mash or even a batch of crispy fries.
Z For Zucchini
Zucchini is a nutrient-dense food, and that results in it being densely populated with anti-oxidants as well which is excellent for your health. The long list of antioxidants contained in zucchini includes beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin c, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are exceptionally beneficial and effective for your overall health.
How To Include Zucchini In Your Diet – Zucchini can be turned into ‘zoodles’, zucchini and parmesan fries, baked chips, stir fry, fritters, baked casseroles. If you want a desi twist, cook zucchini like you would cook ghiya/tori and you’ll be surprised at how wonderfully tasty it has turned out to be.
Phew! And with that, we have listed each item from every other category of ingredients from A to Z! Fresh produce plays an important role in our diets. Vegetables, fruits, dry fruits, and seeds, you have with you the entire list of ingredients that’ll help you prepare a meal full of anti-oxidants according to your dietary restrictions and preferences. Now there is no excuse for you to wait! Get set, go!
Please note that there is no replacement for fresh fruits and vegetables. Supplements do not work as effectively as fresh produce. Do take medical advice from a health care professional before including or excluding any foods from your diet.
- What is the most powerful natural antioxidant available to us in nature?
Hydroxytyrosol is known as the superstar of antioxidants. It is the most powerful antioxidant discovered to date! It's Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity to absorb cell-damaging free radicals is considered to be 15 times higher than green tea and 3 times higher than CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10). Scientists are working on its powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and cardioprotective properties.
Hydroxytyrosol is primarily found in the olive, in the fruit, leaves and pulp. Traditionally, the benefits of olive oil have been ascribed to its oleic acid content. However, other foods like pork and chicken are also rich in oleic acid but do not provide the same cardiovascular protection as olive oil.
So scientists began to search for other properties of that might be responsible for its health-promoting effects. That’s when they found hydroxytyrosol – the polyphenol thought to be responsible for olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects. Its ability to absorb free radicals and protect cells from damage turned out to be quite impressive.
- What are some other antioxidant drinks (except green tea) that we can prepare at home?
Free radicals in our body lead to oxidative stress which can turn into chronic diseases including certain types of cancers and heart disease. To protect yourself, it is essential to include antioxidant rich foods. There are many recipes that you can try at home to add essential antioxidants to your body. Here are some listed below which can be included according to your dietary needs-
Amla Ginger Juice – Chop amla and ginger and combine with water in a mixer. Blend until smooth, strain it and add a pinch of black salt. Serve.
Apple Carrot Ginger Infused Water – Fill a pitcher with water and add some honey, add apple and carrot cubes with ginger sticks to the honey water mix. Let it infuse for 2 to 3 hours. Drink several times a day.
Palak (Spinach), Kale and Green Apple Juice – Chop spinach, kale and green apple and run in the mixer. Strain and add honey and lemon to the juice and serve.
Orange and Zucchini Infused Water – In an infusing bottle, fill the tube with orange slices and zucchini cubes. Fill 3/4th bottle with water, insert the infusing tube and let it sit for 2 to 3 hours before drinking.
Turmeric and Cinnamon Detox Water – In a saucepan por 1 cup water to boil. Once hot, add 1 cinnamon stick and 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder or if you have fresh turmeric, you can grate and add that. Keep the flame on low and let the water infuse all the properties of cinnamon and turmeric. Take off the flame after 5 minutes, let it cool, add lemon juice and honey and serve.
Green Grapes, Strawberry and Orange Infused Water- fill a pitcher with water, add round cut orange slices with peels, cut strawberries and green grapes into halves. Add the fruits to the water. Let it infuse for 2 to 3 hours. Drink several times a day.
Pomegranate Infused Coconut Water- In an infusing bottle, fill the tube with pomegranate seeds. You can add more fruits of your choice is you wish, like- pear/ apple/ black or green grapes etc. Fill 3/4th bottle with coconut water, insert the infusing tube and let it sit for 2 to 3 hours before drinking.
- Which Indian foods are rich in antioxidants?
Several pantry staples in our household can gives us a good supply of nutrition and antioxidants. Popular ones being- Beans and Lentils like Rajma and Moong dal, vegetables like spinach, Carrots, Bell pepper, Beetroot (beets), Tomatoes, Garlic, Onion to name a few. Spices like Haldi, Cinnamon and Clove.
Since the Indian style of cooking involves lots of veggies and spices, we do get our daily dose of antioxidants, but eating these veggies raw along with lots of fiber rich fruits like oranges, pomegranate, mango, strawberries adds to our intake of antioxidants.
- What are anthocyanins and which foods are they found in?
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid that are commonly found in fresh fruits, berries and vegetables. Anthocyanins are that pigments that provide the plants a red, purple or blue coloring. Some of the common foods anthocyanins are found in are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries, eggplant, red cabbage, plums and prunes. Including these fresh fruits and vegetables is sure to improve your overall health.
A test tube study shows that the anthocyanins present in red raspberries play a minor role in the killing the cancer cells of the stomach and color.
- Are strawberries rich in antioxidants?
Beautiful to look at and full of nutrition, strawberries are packed with vitamins, fiber, and high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants are known as polyphenols which are very good for your health. A diet rich in antioxidant foods can help prevent serious medical conditions including certain cancers and heart disease.
- What are betalains?
Betalains are a group of antioxidants. These natural plant pigments are found in vegetables like beetroots (also known as beets), amaranth and prickly pear. Betalains give beets their natural red color. Several studies have shown that betalains can help lower the risk of certain cancers in the digestive system and the colon.
- Are beans high in antioxidants?
Yes, most beans are rich in antioxidants. Infact, beans are one of the best and inexpensive vegetable sources of antioxidants. Beans contain the antioxidant kaempferol, which may help to suppress the growth of various cancers like breast cancer, cancer of the bladder, kidneys and lungs.
Disclaimer – This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information before making any dietary changes.