Currently, 20% of the world’s population is aged 60 years or less according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated that the world population will be aged ≥60 years by 2025. This inevitably will lead to an increase in the number of older people acquiring age-related chronic diseases. We recommend you follow the Morning Fat Melter to maintain a healthy body.

With free radicals playing a role in aging us faster, it is important that you and I start paying more attention to what we’re putting into our bodies.

 

When I was a kid, you couldn’t get me to eat my vegetables or fruits. I wanted to eat all kinds of junk foods and TV dinners.

 

Aim To Eat These 10 Other Foods Rich In Antioxidants To Fight Free Radicals

 

Now that I am older (and arguably smarter) you will never see me eating a TV dinner. I can’t stay away from a healthy breakfast and all the fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I know that filling up on phytonutrients and filling up on greens such as kale, can help me stay younger, and remain healthier.

 

It is important to eat healthy and pay attention to what you put into your body. There are many toxins that linger in your body that cause damage and aging. Eating the right foods and getting the right nutrients and minerals, can help fight off these bad toxins called free radicals.

 

Free radicals are universally recognized as being associated with the aging process; specifically the physical, biochemical, and pathological changes that your body undergoes when exposed to large amounts of free radicals.

 

Adopting a diet that is rich in antioxidants helps to neutralize the oxidant damaged cells in your body caused by free radicals.

 

I am sure that everyone has heard that antioxidants are good for you. But, did you know that antioxidants help make you healthier, helps prevents disease, and essentially allows you to live longer?

 

When combined with a healthy lifestyle, antioxidant-rich diets are said to significantly lower the rate of all-causes and cause-specific deaths by more than 50% in elderly patients 70–90 years old.  Cutting 1/2 the risk of cause-specific mortality simply by including more antioxidants in your diet sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

 

So let’s talk exactly what free radicals are and how we can maintain a healthy lifestyle that is conducive to preventing them from damaging your body. I also want to discuss how to neutralize the free radicals that are already causing you damage by eating antioxidant rich foods.

 

What Are Free Radicals?

confused about free radicals

 

So what are free radicals? Let’s take a trip down memory lane back to your high school chemistry class.

 

Atoms consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. The number of protons (positively charged particles) in the atom’s nucleus determines the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) surrounding that atom. Remember? Is this slowly coming back to you now?

 

Normally, bonds don’t tend to split in a way that leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron. But when a weak bond splits, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability.

 

In short, when a stable molecule loses an electron, it becomes unstable. Any molecule or atom which has an unpaired electron in its outer orbit is known as a free radical. But what does this mean, and how does it happen?

 

Usually, free radicals hijack the nearest stable molecule, which results in stealing its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron, it now becomes a free radical. This begins a chain of reactions. Once the process is started, it can cascade, resulting in the disruption of your living cells.

 

Free radicals come in a variety chemical configurations, shapes, and sizes, so they’re all uniquely different– but free radicals all have one thing in common: an appetite for electrons.

 

Normally free radicals are constantly created in your body which carry out the metabolic activities of life essentially. They are mandatory to life, we need them, and they also fight infections.

 

Our cells give a burst of these free radicals to kill the germs when we become infected with bacteria, fungus, and parasites.

 

So it lends itself the effort to recognize that yes, free radicals are a critical part of life in fighting off infections, BUT too much of it gathering up in large quantities can pose a very big threat.

 

Over time, free radical damage can change the coded instructions in you DNA strands, which is very hazardous to your body.

 

Antioxidants are the best and most natural way to fight against these free radicals and keep your body healthier and younger.

 

Toxins That Cause Free Radicals

Smoking causes high levels of free radicals

 

Toxins that cause free radicals in your body include:

  • cigarette smoke
  • metals
  • pollution
  • high-oxygen atmospheres

 

I’m not necessarily going to get into cigarettes, metals, or pollution in this post. Most of us know that these are bad. Maybe I will do a future post on these topics, but I wanted to focus on the oxygen bullet point.

 

We definitely need oxygen to survive, obviously we breathe it everyday. But, we are breathing about 21% oxygen from our air. However, oxygen itself is a free radical – consuming 100% oxygen is toxic.

 

According to Dr. Sharma, Hari, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Director of the Cancer Prevention and Natural Products Research at the Ohio State University College of Medicine –

Oxygen is what is known as a free radical; it is highly unstable. Oxygen is life saving but if you give 100% oxygen it is highly toxic. Why does oxygen become toxic? It is a molecule which consists of two atoms of oxygen, and when they are combined they balance each other out. But it is unstable, and if the two atoms are separated, they become two free radicals.

So, how do we get rid of these potentially high levels of free radicals from our bodies? Well, the best way to get ride of oxidants is with antioxidants, of course!

 

Better yet, they’re found naturally in a TON of fruits, vegetables, and spices.

 

How Are Antioxidants and Free Radicals Related?

Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals in your body

 

Thanks to its growing popularity, it is expected that the antioxidant supplement industry will be worth over $3 Billion by 2020.

 

In my opinion, it is worth more than any amount of money to fully understand what antioxidants are and what they can do to help make you healthier. This probably will help you and me save money in the ling run by not spending too much on useless supplements.

 

Don’t go out and buy supplements until you know what they do.

 

It’s important to seek out foods that have naturally occurring antioxidants to help fight free radicals and to maintain healthy cells in your body. Antioxidants that occur naturally will be more potent and better able to be absorbed into your body.

 

Furthermore, food companies are starting to add antioxidants to everyday products like cereals, sports bars, energy drinks, and other processed foods. But, these supplements and food additives are simply marketing “buzzwords” to sell more products. Do your research before you start spending money on supplements.

 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, diets high in vegetables and fruits, which are good sources of antioxidants, have been found to be healthy.  Research has not shown antioxidant supplements to be beneficial in preventing diseases.

 

The claims on supplements in the media and marketing have stretched and distorted the data. Antioxidants found in natural foods have been claimed to prevent heart disease, cancer, cataracts, memory loss, and other health dangers.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it is true that antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and other ingredients found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent a variety of diseases. But, it is unlikely that high doses of a single antioxidants can accomplish the same feat.

 

Now let’s get back to our science class.

 

Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons. This helps put a stop to the electron stealing reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals when they donate their electron because they are stable in either form.

 

Antioxidants donate an electron to free radicals to “calm” them down and are consumed in the process. Think of them as more of a scavenger helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease.

 

The benefits of antioxidants don’t stop with just neutralizing free radicals, they’re also a great way to boost your immune system and keep you healthier, longer.

 

Antioxidants are plentiful in variety and come in many different forms, including:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Carotenoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Lycopene
  • Selenium

 

What your body needs the most to help fight free radicals are antioxidants that act as electron donors. There are hundreds, if not thousands of substances that are referred to antioxidants, so it’s crucial to understand that not all antioxidants are made up of the same chemical properties.

 

Some antioxidants might act as electron grabbers (or prooxidants) instead of electron donors. A pro-oxidant has the opposite effect.  It tends to increase the amount of free radicals. 

 

So where’s the silver-lining in all this? Luckily there are quite a few foods with naturally occurring antioxidants, the ones your body needs most, that will help in the fight against free radicals.

 

What Foods Are High In Antioxidants & Fight Free Radicals?

antioxidant rich foods help fight free radicals

 

Maintaining good health always requires that you pay attention to what’s being put into your body and just how much of it is being consumed. Antioxidants have proven themselves to be highly beneficial to your health and well-being when eaten in moderation.

 

There are numerous studies that have been done. The earliest one having been completed in the mid-1990’s, that showed that participants who ate fewer antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were much more likely to develop chronic conditions.

 

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, antioxidant supplements, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene reduced the risk of developing the advanced stage of age-related macular degeneration by about 17%.

 

So as we’ve already discussed, if you need more antioxidants in your diet, just turn to these foods listed below, which are likely already a part of your regular diet.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants to help fight free radicals

 

Primary benefit of tomatoes: Recently, researchers have found a connection between the antioxidant properties in lycopene found in tomatoes and the reduction in blood pressure. Lycopene is the bright red carotenoid pigment that is associated with the deep coloring of tomatoes and other vegetables.

 

Tomatoes contains other carotenoids as well including; beta carotene and vitamin E, which are known to slow the progression of a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries called atherosclerosis.

 

In a study completed in 2006, a short-term treatment with antioxidant-rich tomato extract reduced blood pressure in patients with hypertension.

 

Researchers concluded that the patient’s systolic blood pressure decreased from 144 to 134 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure decreased from 87.4 to 83.4 mm Hg in just 6 weeks.

 

Antioxidants in tomatoes include:

  • vitamin C
  • beta-carotene
  • the mineral manganese
  • vitamin E

 

Grapes

Grapes are an antioxidant-rich food and fight free radicals

 

Primary benefit of grapes: Grapes are highly rich in polyphenols, which epidemiological studies have connected with prevention against developing some cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.

 

I mentioned a big antioxidant called resveratrol in one of my previous articles. In one study, resveratrol was found to suppress melanin production by at least 50%. This means that resveratol has the potential for treating skin pigmentation disorders like albinism and vitiligo.

 

Antioxidants in grapes include:

  • vitamin C
  • beta-carotene
  • manganese
  • resveratrol

 

Walnuts

Walnuts have more antioxidants than any other nut

 

Primary benefit of walnuts: The antioxidants in walnuts are 2-15 times more potent than vitamin E. Vitamin E is known for its powerful antioxidant properties in protecting your body against disease-causing natural chemicals.

 

It only takes 7 walnuts per day to rake in the mega amounts of antioxidants they contain.

 

A study by University of Scranton Chemistry Professor Joe Vinson, Ph.D., looked at nine types of raw and roasted nuts and two types of peanut butter to assess the total amount healthful antioxidants, called polyphenols.

 

Professor Joe Vinson, Ph.D., found the polyphenols’ ability to inhibit free radicals of lower density lipoproteins. Walnuts had the highest levels of total antioxidants and the highest quality of antioxidants.

 

Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts. – Joe Vinson, Ph.D.

 

Antioxidants in walnuts include:

 

Oranges  

Oranges are a great source of antioxidants

 

Primary Benefit of oranges: Oranges are best known for being rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps maintain the health of your eyes, teeth, bones, and skin. Not to mention it is a healthy dose of an immune booster!

 

The antioxidants found in oranges are known to lower cholesterol, have anti-inflammatory benefits, act as an anti-allergic, and anti-carcinogenic.

 

In a 2010 study, researchers found that drinking orange juice for 60 days decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”) in people with high cholesterol.

 

Be careful of the added sugars to orange juice and other juices though. In a previous article I talked about added sugars.

 

Antioxidants in oranges include:

  • carotenoids
  • vitamin C
  • flavonoids

 

Cranberries

Cranberries are the most potent source of antioxidants

 

Primary benefits of cranberries: More so than spinach, raspberries, cherries and all other berries, cranberries have the biggest capacity (8,983 total) for antioxidants in just a single cup.

 

Researchers randomly assigned 176 young women to receive either 120 or 240 mL/d of cranberry juice or a placebo beverage. The overall result showed a decrease of 32% in the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) for women who consumed the cranberry beverages compared with placebo.

 

The antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (PAC) present in cranberries inhibit the adherence of the bacteria that causes a UTI. This is why women tend to drink cranberry juice when diagnosed with a UTI.

 

Antioxidants in cranberries include:

  • vitamin C
  • beta carotene
  • manganese
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K

 

Avocados

Avocados are an excellent source of antioxidants on a wooden table

 

Primary benefits of avocados: I talked a lot about avocados in another article. Avocados are like rocket boosters for your body. Avocados are jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants that are easily absorbed and come with a laundry list of health benefits to keep your body in tip-top shape.

 

Avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of both vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is important for recycling vitamin E to maintain circulatory antioxidant protection such as potentially slowing the rate of LDL-cholesterol oxidation.

 

There are several dozen carotenoids (plant pigments) found in avocados and most of these carotenoids have antioxidant activity. Beta carotene is one type of carotenoid found in avocados. In one study, elevated levels of betacarotene, lycopene, and lutein found in the blood were associated with a 40–50% reduction in breast cancer risk.

 

Even though there are no direct avocado breast cancer clinical studies, research can suggest that avocados can help with reduced risk of breast cancer because they contain important carotenoids such as betacarotene, lycopene, and lutein.

 

Antioxidants in tomatoes include:

  • beta-carotene
  • lutein
  • lycopene
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is an antioxidant-rich food to fight free radicals

 

Primary benefit of broccoli: Out of all the leafy green vegetables, broccoli has the most vitamin C of them all. I used to absolutely hate broccoli as a child. Then I started going to Panera Bread and eating their broccoli cheddar soup, and absolutely love broccoli ever since!

 

Aside from being an excellent source of antioxidants, broccoli plays a key role in impacting your body’s detoxification system through activation, neutralization, and elimination of your body’s contaminants.

 

One hundred and thirty volunteers were recruited for a dietary study. Each volunteer was assigned to consume either 400 g of standard broccoli or 400 g of high glucoraphanin (HG) broccoli per week for 12 weeks.

 

In the study, the HG broccoli diet reduced the bad cholesterol (LDL-C) by 7.1% after 12 weeks. The standard broccoli reduced the bad cholesterol LDL-C by 1.8% after 12 weeks.

 

Antioxidants in broccoli include:

  • vitamin E
  • manganese
  • flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin
  • carotenoids
  • lutein
  • beta-carotene

 

Cabbage

Cabbage is known for having cancer preventing benefits

 

Primary benefit of cabbage: With 196.5 milligrams of polyphenol potent antioxidants, cabbage is another vegetable high on the totem pole of super healthy, free radical fighting leafy greens.

 

Research shows evidence that polyphenols assist in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Oxidative stress, especially chronically, is considered to be a risk factor in developing cancer.

 

A close second to broccoli, red cabbage actually has 6 to 8 times more vitamin C than green cabbage does.

 

Cabbage is associated with having cancer prevention benefits because of how rich they are in antioxidants.

 

The results from a study done in 2014 suggested that different varieties of cabbage heads could contribute as sources of important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory related to the prevention of chronic diseases associated to oxidative stress, such as in cancer and coronary artery disease.

 

Antioxidants in cabbage include:

  • vitmain C
  • manganese
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K

Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and fight free radicals

 

Primary benefit of blueberries: Blueberries are the head honcho when it comes to antioxidants. One cup of wild blueberries contains 10 times the USDA’s recommended daily value. That’s over 13,000 antioxidants!

 

Studies regarding overall fruit consumption have shown that humans who eat more fruits, like blueberries, have a lower risk of developing cancers (of several different varieties) than those who only consumed fewer amounts.

 

Studies have also shown the protective effects of blueberries against insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, thus reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

 

Antioxidants in blueberries include:

  • vitmain C
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin K
  • flavonoids querticin and anthocyanidin

 

Plums and Prunes

Eating plums and prunes are an easy way to get your antioxidants naturally

 

Primary benefits of plums and prunes: An antioxidant analysis called oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other substances. Tufts University’s study ranked dried plums the highest antioxidant capacity among 22 other fruits and veggies.

 

Plums are said to have more than twice as much antioxidants as blueberries and other high-ranking foods. During the drying process of prunes, the antioxidants concentrate and reach a level about 5 times higher than that of fresh plums. In case you didn’t know, prunes are dried plumes 🙂

 

Prunes and dried plums are like the superheros of the antioxidant food world with highly beneficial properties in neutralizing dangerous free radicals called “superoxide anion radical.”

 

Antioxidants in prunes and plums include:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin A

 

Beans

beans

 

Primary benefit of beans: Red, black, pinto, and kidney beans have all been found to be excellent high-octane sources of antioxidants. According to WebMD, beans rank even higher than blueberries in nutritional content and antioxidants.

 

Research suggests that diets that include beans reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol due to the ample amounts of polyphenols, many of which are potent antioxidants like I said before.

 

Another antioxidant called phytate is an example of an antinutrient that may exert beneficial effects. Phytate is found in beans and is an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of certain cancers and kidney stones.

 

Eating different types of beans can possibly contribute to the effects on glycemic control include their low GI, high fiber content, and possibly their polyphenol content.  This may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes through their antioxidant effects.

 

Antioxidants in tomatoes include:

  • flavonoids
  • phenols
  • vitamin B
  • phytate

 

Apples

Apples are a healthy way to get your antioxidants

 

Primary benefits of apples: Like many of our other antioxidant friendly foods, apples are a great way to prevent against cancer with their high-capacity for antioxidant flavonoids.

 

Researchers found that people who eat the highest amount of fruits and vegetables had a 20% lower risk for coronary heart disease. The lowest risks were seen in people who consumed more green leafy vegetables, and fruits rich in vitamin C.

 

Scientists have calculated an apple’s antioxidant power to be equal to or more than 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C.

 

This is mostly due to apple’s antioxidant properties known as flavonoids. The daily recommended value for vitamin C is between 75 to 90 milligrams for adults. Apples are really packing it in BIG time! Reducing your risk of coronary heart disease with consuming more apples is a wonderful start to a healthier you.

 

I love red apples the most! What about you?

 

Antioxidants in apples include:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • beta-carotene

 

Aim To Eat These 10 Other Foods Rich In Antioxidants To Fight Free Radicals

 

Conclusion

baby-eating-berries-toddler Berries are a great way to maintain your antioxidant health

 

It has been estimated that a healthy diet could prevent approximately 30% of all cancers. High cholesterol and obesity are greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle and are costing the United States billions of dollars in health related expenses.

 

By eating more fruits and vegetables, you are supplying your body with more and more antioxidants. Like I always say, moderation is key to a healthy you. Free radicals are a catalyst to unhealthy bodies.

 

If you’re looking for great ways to include more free radical fighting foods into your diet, look no further than your grocer’s produce section.

 

Avoid taking store-bought antioxidant supplements, which are harder to absorb and contain far less antioxidants than your body actually needs to really make a difference.

 

The best way to get in all the amazing benefits of a diet high in antioxidants is to incorporate the foods listed above into your meals each day. They are all great tasting, highly nutrient foods. Why wouldn’t you want your body to run at optimal working condition?

 

You are what you eat.

 

What are your favorite antioxidant-rich foods? What are your thoughts on incorporating more antioxidants into your diet? Leave us a comment below! 

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