7 Foods High in Antioxidants with Easy Plant-Based Recipes
Food is medicine, and nothing makes this more evident than when you eat a diet rich in antioxidants, which studies show lowers your risk of diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. By eating antioxidant-rich foods you are protecting your body against free radicals and helping to slow aging, boost immunity, and contribute to overall health and wellbeing.
Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from oxidative stress and prevent or minimize damage to the body caused by free radicals. They are most abundant in plant-based foods: Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Free radicals are compounds that can damage cells if they exceed the body's threshold or tolerance, and have been linked to inflammation caused by oxidation, including premature aging, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Similarly, oxidative stress can damage cells, proteins, DNA, all of which can lead to accelerated aging.
7 Foods High in Antioxidants
Which foods are high in antioxidants? Here are 7 fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, plus easy plant-based recipes that are as delicious as they are healthy.
1. Goji Berries
Goji berries have gained popularity through their classification as a superfood, nutrient-rich food. Goji berries contain phenolic acids and flavonoids which include caffeic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, chlorogenic acid, natural compounds that have "very high" antioxidant capacity, according to a report by the Hindawi Journal.
A Diet High in Antioxidants...
Reduces risk of
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weight maintenance
Berry fruits, in general, are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals, which "may help fight cancer and heart disease," says Debbie Krivitsky, director of clinical nutrition at the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Vegan Goji Berries Recipes
2. Wild Blueberries
Phytochemicals are abundant in blueberries, in particular, anthocyanins have the greatest impact on overall health, according to a recent report by Oxford Academic. Studies have linked moderate intake of blueberries for its anthocyanins with:
The antioxidants in blueberries have positive impacts on vascular and glucoregulatory or digestive function, according to the same report. They may also protect against gastrointestinal microflora and contribute to host health. These conditions accelerate aging, and blueberries can help hinder the aging process.
Vegan Blueberry Recipes
- Blueberry Pancakes
- Blueberry Cinnamon Overnight Oats
- Blueberry Banana Muffins
- Blueberry Pecan Arugula Salad
- Triple Berry Baked Oats
Often medically consumed for urinary tract infections and cardiovascular health, cranberries are high in antioxidants, particularly phytochemicals, just like most berries. Consumption of cranberry juice improved plasma antioxidant capacity and a decrease in healthy female participants, and a decrease in LDL (the bad) cholesterol in healthy men, seen in a study reported by Oxford Academia.
Vegan Cranberry Recipes
Artichokes are ranked high on the list of vegetables rich in antioxidants. The polyphenol plant compounds in artichokes are rich in antioxidants and include two important compounds caffeoylquinic acids and flavonoids – which help fight disease and protect the body against free radicals that cause oxidative stress on the body.
Blackberries are considered one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits due to their high levels of phenolic compounds that include ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, and cyanidins, as well as various types of flavonoids, according to a study. Researchers categorized blackberries as "nutraceutical," substances that have mental health benefits and protect the body against chronic diseases.
Vegan Blackberry Recipes
Plums contain antioxidants and antiallergic properties, which have been linked to improved cognitive function, bone health parameters, and cardiovascular risk factors, according to a report. In addition, the most active antioxidant in plums is a specific type of polyphenol called anthocyanins which has been linked to reducing risks of heart disease and certain cancers, according to a study.
Vegan Plum Recipes
7. Dark Leafy Greens
You can't go wrong with eating leafy green vegetables: They're full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and loaded with antioxidants, specifically, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and carotenoids-antioxidants which make spinach, watercress, kale, and other leafy greens a powerhouse food, helping the body fight illness.
Vegan Leafy Green Recipes
- Kale Salad with Creamy Chiptole Dressing
- Superfood Rolls with Creamy Curry Dip
- Vegan Kale Caesar Salad
Bottom Line: A diet high in antioxidants can lower your risk of diseases
Antioxidants help fight diseases by protecting the body against free radicals and damage caused by oxidative stress. Load up on these 7 antioxidant-rich foods to boost your overall health.
For more great health advice, check out The Beet's Health and Nutrition articles.