Foods Rich In Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a type of nutrients. These are compounds needed by our body to prevent or slow down the oxidative damage being caused to it. Our body cells produce free radicals as by-products when they use oxygen. The antioxidants are scavengers of free radicals, which are harmful for our body repair mechanism by taking up the free radicals the antioxidants, prevent as well as repair the damage done by them. Oxidative damage causes heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease etc. along with repairing damage antioxidants also increase immunity and thus lower the risk of cancer and infection. Anti-oxidants by preventing and repairing damage caused by free radicals also help tackle early signs of ageing.

As we age, our energy metabolism gets affected it becomes less efficient; free radicals go about destroying the  cellular compounds and damage  the proteins, lipids, and DNA, which can lead to cell death - especially in the brain cells which generate more oxidative by products.

We need different types of antioxidants to protect our tissues from damage, for this it is best to eat a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods. To get an ample amount of antioxidants one of the best ways is to include a plenty of fresh vegetables in your daily diet. If you cannot have a big bowl of green salad every day, having fresh vegetable juice everyday is another good option, or for convenience sake, one could always go for green food products of high quality. Fresh fruits are also a good source of antioxidants, but it is better to limit the amount of sweet fruit for your dental health and blood sugar levels. Research shows that antioxidants are found in unexpected fruits and vegetables such as red beans, Russet and red potatoes, Artichokes etc. all these foods may not be likeable and consumed a lot, but, considering their anti-oxidant content these foods are the ones you should not avoid. Till date blueberries held a coveted place in the list of anti-oxidant rich foods but, after conducting researches it has been deduced that small red beans contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than blueberries, wild or cultivated. It is also known, that nuts and spices are rich in antioxidants. These include ground cloves, cinnamon, and oregano, which are consumed in lesser quantities.

 Researchers have ranked the food items according to their antioxidant content; each of the foods was analyzed for antioxidant concentration and was ranked according to antioxidant capacity per serving size. Talking about ranking the foods rich in anti-oxidants, it is found that among the fruits cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries boast of the highest anti-oxidant content. Cranberries have Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC) of 8983 per cup, blueberries have a TAC of 9019 per cup and blackberries have a TAC of 7701.

Among the vegetables red beans with a TAC of 13727 per half a cup, artichokes when cooked have a TAC of 7904, and cooked Russet potatoes have 4649 TAC.  The nut containing the maximum amount of antioxidants were Pecans having a TAC of 5095 per ounce along with walnuts and hazelnuts. Among the spices ground cloves, cinnamon, and oregano are the top three antioxidant-rich spices. Though these foods are the best sources of the disease fighting anti-oxidants, it is believed that the total antioxidant capacity of a food does not necessarily reflect its health benefit. Also, the anti-oxidant content of especially vegetables significantly depends on the method of cooking. On experimenting it was found that the cooked Russet and red potatoes had much lower antioxidant levels than the level found in raw potatoes. Boiling also decreases the antioxidant levels in some vegetables like carrots while on the contrary, cooking tomatoes increased their antioxidant content.

For now, it cannot be said for sure what is the right amount of antioxidants to be consumed by an individual. Similarly there are no proper guidelines for the kind of antioxidants one should consume in their daily diet. But still, the importance of these anti-oxidants cannot be ignored. One should include at least one serving of the aforementioned foods in their daily diet, so as to remain healthy and prevent early ageing of the body. 

Top Comments

very informative
by amna     15-Jul-2012

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