Humans need a balanced diet for survival. Hence, an assortment of essential micronutrients is needed. An example of one such essential requirement is antioxidants.
Antioxidants are naturally produced by the body to fight free radical damage. Free radicals are harmful compounds that are linked to many diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants help keep free radicals at bay.
Besides the antioxidants your body generates, they can also be found in food and supplements. Some people prefer supplements over foods.
But it is important to remember that there is no need for supplements when dietary intake is sufficient.
In this article, we will discuss some great food sources of antioxidants. Adding these in your daily meals will enrich your diet with numerous nutrients.
Foods Rich In Antioxidants
Generally, low-carb diets and non-veg foods may not be the ideal options for fetching maximum antioxidants. Many of the foods restricted in a low-carb diet have high amounts of antioxidants.
Choose and plan your diet accordingly so that you don’t deprive the body of needed nutrition.
Below is a list of antioxidant-rich foods. You can include any of these according to your needs, preferences and diet plans.
Spinach is one of the best and healthiest greens. It is a staple in numerous healthy and delicious recipes such as smoothies, and salads. Even a small serving of 100 g can provide vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.
Roughly, 100 g of spinach contains 0.9 mmol of antioxidants, including lutein, carotenoids, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin. This antioxidant-rich food helps promote eye health and prevent macular damage.
Beans are available in numerous varieties and are packed with antioxidants, proteins and carbohydrates. The dietary fiber present in beans keeps bowel movements regulated.
Green board beans are one of the richest bean sources of antioxidants. They contain around 2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 g.
Kidney beans are also a high octane source of antioxidants. They also contain folate, vitamin C, selenium, zinc and calcium.
When beans are combined with grains, they act as complete proteins. Including them in the diet is a great way of getting closer to your required nutritional requirements.
Although they might be small in size, the benefits of nuts are infinite. Nuts are a great source of fiber, proteins, fats, and very importantly, antioxidants.
Almonds and walnuts are the go-to options while chestnuts and pecans are great choices as well. Both the nuts are low in sodium.
Almonds have a good amount of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant helping in cell membrane formation.
Just 28.4 g of almonds contain about 7.27 mg of vitamin E. Walnuts have more antioxidants than most other nuts. This is due to the presence of vitamin E and melatonin.
Both almonds and walnuts have polyphenols. This helps prevent oxidative damage.
Berries of different sizes, shapes and vibrant colours are mesmerizing, but they have more to offer than just variety. With varying tastes, they have amazing benefits too.
Many types of berries are rich in antioxidants, including,
- Strawberries- They have plenty of vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. This helps to ensure smooth metabolism. Additionally, they provide antioxidants that neutralize heavy metals in our bodies.
- Blueberries- They are considered the most nutritious berry as a whole. Packed with vitamins A, C and B6. They also have phytonutrients that may act as powerful antioxidants.
- Cranberries- Cranberries are a great companion for women. They help in maintaining healthy vaginal pH. They provide vitamin C, K and magnesium. Polynutritients present in them are good antioxidants. They may prove to be useful in cancer prevention.
- Raspberries- They are a good source of ellagic acid. It acts as an antioxidant. Additionally, they provide vitamins and fibers. Raspberries may help in preventing the growth of tumour-causing cells. They provide nearly 4 mmol antioxidants per 100g.
- Goji Berries- They are a perfect source of antioxidants. The combination of lycopene and beta carotene present in them makes them very effective for eyes, skin and hair.
They also boost immunity which includes resistance toward unwanted organisms in the body. They may provide 4.3 mmol antioxidants per 100g.
- Gooseberries- Like all the other berries mentioned above, they have health benefits too. They have phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. The Indian gooseberry popularly known as Amla, is a great source too.
Ayurvedic medicine, a type of alternative medicine in India, and traditional uses highlight its role as an antioxidant too. It is good for skin, digestion, eyes, hair and a lot more. Its biggest role is in the detoxification of blood. This aids in the prevention of oxidative damage.
Fruits Rich In Vitamin C
Fruits are effortlessly rich in vitamins. One of these is vitamin C. This vitamin is a strong antioxidant.
Popular fruits like peaches, oranges and many more have vitamin C in addition to all the other nutrients they hold.
Vitamin C can protect you from arthritis. They may even boost satiety. One of the fruits rich in vitamin C is guava.
It is considered a top-of-the-line antioxidant producer in fruits. The presence of antioxidants in it helps a person with brain dysfunctions, heart diseases and inflammations.
They are one of the richest sources of lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
Including tomatoes is a good option for losing weight as they have low carbs and it is good for the heart and may reduce the risk of cancer.
Unlike other chocolates filled with synthetic sugar, dark chocolate is home to many nutrients. This fresh product of cocoa has plant compounds. They help in reducing free radicals in cells.
Dark chocolate is very helpful for skin as well. It adds plumpiness to the face and keeps you hydrated. Dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa content or more is best for healthy consumption. It may provide 15mmol antioxidants per 100g.
Even though plant foods are better sources of antioxidants, eggs have their benefits. If you love fluffy omelettes and cannot follow an all veggies and fruits diet, this one’s for you.
The yolk of hen eggs has lutein and zeaxanthin. If you are looking to increase antioxidant intake, try eating whole eggs and not just egg white.
Other micronutrients like selenium and carotenoids are present in them as well and increasing their efficiency.
Other sources of antioxidants in eggs are
They are one of the richest known sources of omega-3 fatty acids and have polyunsaturated fats, which are extremely healthy. They also contain selenium which is an excellent antioxidant. It might help to combat oxidative stress and free radical damage.
Oily fish may help care for skin, eyes, heart, and hair.
Some healthy options are salmon, tuna, sardines and herring.
Snacking and tea time are the much-needed breaks. If this time is accompanied by the right beverage, it can help enhance dietary benefits.
Green tea has a number of advantages as it is rich and popular source of antioxidants. It contains polyphenols that may actively neutralise free radicals.
Two potent phytochemicals, anthocyanin and pro anthocyanin, are anti-inflammatory. They may also help prevent cancer. The best source of high-quality green tea is matcha.
Red Cabbage is high in antioxidants called anthocyanins and may help you in enhancing your overall body health. In addition, they are high in fiber, so red cabbage consumption could help you improve your digestion as well.
Through its consumption, its consumption could empower your body to combat cancer and several heart diseases.
Additionally, it is also rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A which can significantly enhance your immune response to foreign and harmful elements. Regular consumption of red cabbage may also improve your vision ability.
Kale is another type of cabbage and has similar benefits to red cabbage. It is also high in antioxidants such as polyphenols.
Consuming kale raw in your meals may help you provide enhanced nutrition.
Kale is rich in vitamin A and vitamin K and can help you improve your heart function. Along with this, this may also help you in dealing with your bulky physique.
Peanut butter is also high in antioxidants. It contains higher amounts of vitamin E, vitamin B, and manganese.
Along with this, Peanut butter consumption may help you in dealing with obesity and could also help you in maintaining your blood sugar levels and have protective functions against cancer, heart disease, inflammation, and degenerative nerve disease.
Chia seeds consist of antioxidants such as quercetin. Therefore, its consumption may help enhance your overall health conditions.
They are also rich in fiber, which may help in maintaining your blood pressure levels. As a result, it could help you deal with several heart problems.
Also, you might want to note that there are many chia seeds benefits, but there exist several chia seed side effects as well. Hence, you need to be sure you are not allergic to chia seeds and are not overconsuming them.
They are high in antioxidants. In addition, drying raisins may provide a significant amount of antioxidants such as polyphenols.
Regular consumption could help you by improving your cell growth. Also, it may further prevent cell damage due to lifestyle changes.
It is rich in beta-carotene antioxidants, which may help provide a yellow color to the fruit.
Consuming mangoes may also prevent frequent cell damage, which could keep you away from harmful complications of cancer.
They are full of antioxidants that may help you prevent several harmful diseases. Potatoes also contain fiber and vitamins.
Consuming potatoes in meals could help prevent heart problems and enhance heart function. Along with this, it may improve your overall body function.
They consist of antioxidants such as carotenoids and anthocyanins which give carrots their orange color. It may help in protecting you by preventing excessive cell damage.
Further, this could help you in dealing with heart problems. Carrots also contain vitamin A which may play a significant role in keeping your eyes healthy.
Avocados are rich in antioxidants and are highly anti-inflammatory. They also contain vitamin C and vitamin E.
Its consumption may help you prevent several harmful diseases. Also, avocados could help you by enhancing your immune response to foreign elements.
Lettuce is rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Along with this, lettuce contains of vitamin A and vitamin C.
This may help you in enhancing the iron ratio in your body. This could further improve your overall development. Also, its consumption may play an essential role in enhancing your vision.
It contains natural antioxidants that may help you improve your overall body function. This could also help in preserving food.
Consuming honey may help you in preventing several heart problems. Along with this, it could also reduce inflammation by its rich anti-inflammatory properties.
This contains plenty of antioxidants that may help you prevent DNA damage. Also, consuming ginger daily could help in healthy aging.
Further, it could also strengthen your body which may help combat several chronic complications such as cancer, lung diseases, heart problems, etc.
What Are Free Radicals?
They are unstable molecules. They either donate or gain an electron to attain stability. They are produced in our body during activities like exercise and inflammation.
Some external sources like air pollution, smoking, vaping and x-rays are responsible for the production of free radicals.
The Role Of Antioxidants On Free Radicals
Free radicals are responsible for numerous health problems. They may target brain functioning and cause Alzheimer’s disease. They are not safe for the skin and speed up the ageing process.
They may increase blood cholesterol levels. This can be a serious threat to the heart. Additionally, they affect the coded information in DNA. Cancer is another problem often linked to free radical damage.
To counter the production of free radicals, our body produces antioxidants. They are a natural defence against free radical damage. Therefore, they are also included in the diet for reaping maximum benefits.
They may effectively reduce cell damage caused by free radicals. However, they alone cannot prevent the damage, especially in the case where external sources like smoking are involved.
Some examples of antioxidants are:
- vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- omega-3 fatty acids
- omega-6 fatty acids
Antioxidants are essential for human survival. They are produced by our body to fight free radical damage. These radicals are produced within the body. Some external sources like smoking, pollution and X-rays are also responsible.
They can cause cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart problems and ageing of the skin. Antioxidants may prove to be useful in preventing these diseases beforehand.
Including antioxidants in the diet help in improving one’s health. Plant sources like fruits and vegetables provide enough antioxidants. Some of them are seeds, walnuts, spinach, kale, red cabbage, berries etc.
However, some non-vegan sources like eggs and fatty fish are also healthy options. They are packed with antioxidants too.
According to some researchers, a person needs 3000-5000 ORAC units ( Oxidative Radical Absorbance Capacity) per day for a healthy life.
Do not take a surplus amount as it is either excreted by kidneys or causes damage to the body.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
- Sang-Heui Ko, Jae-Hee Park, So-Yun Kim, et al. Antioxidant Effects of Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) Supplementation in Hyperlipidemic Rats Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2014 Mar; 19(1): 19–26. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2014.19.1.019
- Maria Neve Ombra, Antonio d’Acierno, Filomena Nazzaro, et al. Phenolic Composition and Antioxidant and Antiproliferative Activities of the Extracts of Twelve Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Endemic Ecotypes of Southern Italy before and after Cooking Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016; 2016: 1398298. Published online 2016 Dec 25. doi: 10.1155/2016/1398298
- Rune Blomhoff, Monica H Carlsen, Lene Frost Andersen, et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60. doi: 10.1017/bjn20061864. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17125534/
- Joe A Vinson, Yuxing Cai Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits Food Funct. 2012 Feb;3(2):134-40. doi: 10.1039/c2fo10152a. Epub 2011 Dec 21. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22187094/
- Sona Skrovankova, Daniela Sumczynski, Jiri Mlcek, et al. Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Oct; 16(10): 24673–24706. Published online 2015 Oct 16. doi: 10.3390/ijms161024673
- Zheng Feei Ma, Hongxia Zhang, Sue Siang Teh, et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019; 2019: 2437397. Published online 2019 Jan 9. doi: 10.1155/2019/2437397
- Mahendra Parkash Kapoor, Koji Suzuki, Timm Derek, et al. Clinical evaluation of Emblica Officinalis Gatertn (Amla) in healthy human subjects: Health benefits and safety results from a randomized, double-blind, crossover placebo-controlled study Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2020 Mar; 17: 100499. Published online 2019 Nov 27. doi: 10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100499
- Sebastian J Padayatty, Arie Katz, Yaohui Wang, et al. Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Feb;22(1):18-35. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2003.10719272. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12569111/
- Manoj Kumar, Maharishi Tomar, Ryszard Amarowicz, et al. Guava (Psidium guajava L.) Leaves: Nutritional Composition, Phytochemical Profile, and Health-Promoting Bioactivities Foods. 2021 Apr; 10(4): 752. Published online 2021 Apr 1. doi: 10.3390/foods10040752
- Erica N. Story, Rachel E. Kopec, Steven J. Schwartz, et al. An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010; 1: 10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120. doi: 10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120
- Thea Magrone, Matteo Antonio Russo, and Emilio Jirillo. Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications Front Immunol. 2017; 8: 677. Published online 2017 Jun 9. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677
- Chamila Nimalaratne and Jianping Wu Hen Egg as an Antioxidant Food Commodity: A Review Nutrients. 2015 Oct; 7(10): 8274–8293. Published online 2015 Sep 24. doi: 10.3390/nu7105394
- Chatrapa Hudthagosol, Ella Haddad, Rewadee Jongsuwat Antioxidant activity comparison of walnuts and fatty fish J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Jun;95 Suppl 6:S179-88. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23130505/
- K Osada, M Takahashi, S Hoshina, et al. Tea catechins inhibit cholesterol oxidation accompanying oxidation of low density lipoprotein in vitro Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2001 Feb;128(2):153-64. doi: 10.1016/s1532-0456(00)00192-7. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11239828/
- Anna Podsędek, Małgorzata Redzynia, Elżbieta Klewicka, et al. Matrix Effects on the Stability and Antioxidant Activity of Red Cabbage Anthocyanins under Simulated Gastrointestinal Digestion. Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 365738. Published online 2014 Jan 19. doi: 10.1155/2014/365738
- Cabbage, red, raw. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169977/nutrients
- Elżbieta Sikora and Izabela Bodziarczyk. Composition and antioxidant activity of kale (Brassica oleracea L. var.acephala) raw and cooked. Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment. Jul-Sep 2012;11(3):239-48.
- Kale, raw. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323505/nutrients
- Peanut butter. Date of Publication: 10/30/2020. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100559/nutrients
- Shalini S. Arya, Akshata R. Salve, and S. Chauhan. Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Jan; 53(1): 31–41. Published online 2015 Sep 19. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-2007-9
- Chia seeds. Date of publication: 10/30/2020. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100612/nutrients
- Rahman Ullah, M. Nadeem, A. Khalique, et al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Apr; 53(4): 1750–1758. Published online 2015 Oct 1. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0
- Raisins. Date of Publication: 10/30/2020. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102640/nutrients
- Tory L Parker, Xiao-Hong Wang, Jorge Pazmiño, et al. Antioxidant capacity and phenolic content of grapes, sun-dried raisins, and golden raisins and their effect on ex vivo serum antioxidant capacity. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Oct 17;55(21):8472-7. doi: 10.1021/jf071468p. Epub 2007 Sep 20.
- Mangos, raw. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169910/nutrients
- Sônia Machado Rocha Ribeiro, José Humberto Queiroz, Maria Eliana Lopes Ribeiro de Queiroz, et al. Antioxidant in mango (Mangifera indica L.) pulp. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2007 Mar;62(1):13-7. doi: 10.1007/s11130-006-0035-3. Epub 2007 Jan 23.
- Potatoes, Russet, flesh, and skin, baked. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170030/nutrients
- Hanjo Hellmann, Aymeric Goyer, and Duroy A. Navarre. Antioxidants in Potatoes: A Functional View on One of the Major Food Crops Worldwide. Molecules. 2021 May; 26(9): 2446. Published online 2021 Apr 22. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092446
- Carrots, raw. Date of Publication: 10/30/2020. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103193/nutrients
- Tanveer Ahmad, Maria Cawood, Qumer Iqbal, et al. Phytochemicals in Daucus carota and Their Health Benefits—Review Article. Foods. 2019 Sep; 8(9): 424. Published online 2019 Sep 19. doi: 10.3390/foods8090424
- Avocado, raw. Date of Publication: 10/30/2020. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102652/nutrients
- Mark L. Dreher and Adrienne J. Davenport. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May; 53(7): 738–750. Published online 2013 May 2. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.556759
- Lettuce, green leaf, raw. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from:https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169249/nutrients
- Ho-Min Kang , Mikal E Saltveit. Antioxidant capacity of lettuce leaf tissue increases after wounding. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18;50(26):7536-41. doi: 10.1021/jf020721c.
- Honey. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169640/nutrients
- Sarfraz Ahmed, Siti Amrah Sulaiman, Atif Amin Baig, et al. Honey as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Its Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018; 2018: 8367846. Published online 2018 Jan 18. doi: 10.1155/2018/8367846
- Nafiseh Shokri Mashhadi, Reza Ghiasvand, Gholamreza Askari, et al. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr; 4(Suppl 1): S36-S42.
- Ginger root, raw. Date of Publication: 4/1/2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169231/nutrients
- Lien Ai Pham-Huy, Hua He, and Chuong Pham-Huy Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun; 4(2): 89–96.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Otella has an experience of around eight years of writing about health and nutrition-related topics. She is a full-time mother and a housewife, and the time she has left after doing her mother and household duties is spent writing for Working for Health as a full-time writer. Her life goal is to raise both her boys into a gentleman, and at the same time, she wants to educate people on how to keep themselves fit by tweaking their daily diet.