Antioxidants protect billions of cells in our body from free radical damage, a process that causes development of various diseases like cancer. Free radicals are known to speed up aging and hence foods containing antioxidants are referred to as age-defying foods.
Introducing natural sources of antioxidants in the diet is the easiest way to stay healthy. Foods that are considered to be a good source of antioxidants are listed below:
Vegetables: Red cabbage, spinach, red beet, Brussels sprouts
Fruits: Grapefruit, bilberry, pineapple, watermelons, grapes – particularly red grapes, orange, plum and pomegranate
Nuts: Walnuts, pecans, groundnuts, and hazelnuts
Legumes: Soybeans, pinto beans, and broad beans
Dry Fruits:: dates, prunes, and apricots
Spices: Cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne pepper
Meat Food Sources: Chicken, lamb, fish (salmon), turkey, and crab meat
Other foodstuffs that are also high on the antioxidant scale and far better than nutritional supplements are given below:
Acai berries, cranberries, raisins, cherries, kiwis, red delicious apples, and raspberries
Carrots, cucumber, potatoes, artichokes, avocados, asparagus, lettuce, collard green, and squash
A healthy snack involving dried fruits such as figs, peaches, and pears
Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, oregano, and parsley
Herbs, that include marjoram, basil, savory, dill weed, tarragon, and thyme
Tomato juice, apple or orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice.
Peanut butter sandwich, cashews, morning cornflakes and oatmeal
Antioxidants, also referred to as anti-oxidation agents, are nutrients that try to decrease the harmful effects of oxidants (free radicals) on the body cells. As we all know, the body cells require oxygen for growth and energy. The body cells use oxygen to generate energy and sustain life, and release free radicals as a byproduct. Antioxidant (given below) act as free radical scavengers, which helps to maximize lifespan.
Flavonoids: These antioxidants play a key role in giving color to vegetables and fruits. Berries and citrus fruits such as oranges are a rich source of flavonoids. It is observed that mental function declines gradually with age. However, this aspect of old age can be effectively reduced with daily intake of flavonoids given below:
Phytonutrients: These are a group of nutrients that help to rebuild damaged cells and fight cancer. Generally present in the skins of vegetables and fruits, phytonutrients are important to optimize immune function.
Isoflavones: Their ability to prevent diseases is remarkable. Concentrated more in soybeans, these antioxidants provide tremendous health benefits. The healing power of isoflavones has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Isoflavones not only significantly decrease long-term cancer risk, but also eases menopause symptoms and improve bone health. Some of the known isoflavones are listed below:
Zinc: The antioxidant capacity of this mineral is very high. The antioxidant properties of dietary zinc could protect the human body from neurological disorders. A steady intake of zinc can prevent nervous system disorders such as mental disturbances. Dairy products such as cheese and milk are good sources of zinc.
Coenzyme Q10: This is one of the antioxidants produced in the body. Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for normal functioning of the cells. However, with age, the level of Coenzyme Q10 decreases considerably. One can compensate this loss by eating foods containing Coenzyme Q10. This antioxidant that is predominantly found in meat (lamb) and fish, promotes healthy gums and cardiac system.
Melatonin: One of the most important antioxidants, melatonin is synthesized by our body. Melatonin maintains normal sleep patterns. Normal levels of melatonin in the body increase sleep efficiency. Although this antioxidant is present in vegetables, it is mainly found in tomatoes. In order to improve and restore normal sleep pattern, it is essential to have sufficient intake of melatonin.
Substances such as catechins, citric acid, phytic acid, oxalic acid, epigallocatechin gallate, ginkgo biloba, glutathione, lutein, alpha carotone, and zexathin are also in the list of antioxidants.
Best Sources of Antioxidants
Tomatoes: Tomatoes, rich in antioxidants, helps to boost immune function. The red color of tomato is due to lycopene, a powerful infection-fighting antioxidant. So those concerned about their health should eat tomatoes to reap its antioxidant benefits. A juicy tomato is not only delicious but also loaded with antioxidants that can play a major role in prostate cancer prevention.
Broccoli: This green leafy vegetable is rich in phytonutrients that give long-term protection against a number of diseases. You can add broccoli to your favorite dish, such as pizza or pasta, and make it more nutritious. Overcooking of broccoli should be avoided as it destroys the essential nutrients.
Garlic: Beside being a flavor enhancer, garlic is one of the most easily obtainable antioxidant rich food. Harness the power of this natural antioxidant to enhance the quality of your life. The antioxidant properties of garlic can significantly decrease the risk of certain cancers.
Green Tea: Having a cup of green tea in the afternoon is a delicious way to add antioxidants into your diet. Antioxidants that are predominantly found in green tea are known as catechins. These antioxidants decrease high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol levels and fight bacteria-causing diseases.
Berries: Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, are highly rated amongst antioxidant rich foods. You can add few berries to your morning cereal for a healthy breakfast. These fruits, high in vitamin C, are probably the richest source of antioxidants.
No wonder people having a glass of orange juice everyday are healthy and active even in their old age. In fact, these people do not look old at all as their face is free from wrinkles. Health is the most valuable asset for everyone and a simple way to protect it would be to eat foods high in antioxidants. So if you believe in the dictum ‘health is wealth’, do not forget to include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.