Antioxidants are something of a buzz word in the natural health community, and for good reason. They scavenge cancer-causing free radicals throughout our body, which leads to improved health and healthier aging. We now have genetic evidence that antioxidants kill cancer, and they even help improve memory. Here are the top antioxidant rich foods you probably (and should) have in your kitchen.
Top 5 Antioxidant Rich Foods
Imagine if we could simply sprinkle antioxidants onto any bland food. Good news: we can! By weight, spices have the most antioxidants of any food, with cloves bearing an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of about 300,000 units per 100 grams. (But please don’t consume 100 grams of cloves in one sitting!) Other powerful spices include turmeric, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Despite being typically thought of as a junk food, chocolate is packed full of antioxidants. The key to finding more antioxidants (and less fat and sugar) in your chocolate is getting the right kind. Unsweetened cocoa powder has ORAC values of 50,000, so you can make your own healthy chocolate by combining it with real butter or coconut oil and moderate amounts of healthy sugars, like maple syrup or honey. When you’re on the move, though, reach for dark chocolate, which clocks in at about 20,000 units of antioxidants.
Depending on the brew time and bean variety, coffee has an ORAC value of up to 17,000 units. In moderate amounts, coffee health benefits include protection against atherosclerosis, type II diabetes, depression, and even dementia.
Berries have been marketed for many years as great antioxidant rich foods. Himalayan goji berries and Acai berries have the most antioxidants—25,000 and 18,5000 respectively. For those of us saving money or buying local, however, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries still pack quite an antioxidant punch. Dried varieties, like raisins (over 10,000 units) are good choices, too. Just be sure to avoid types loaded with added sugar.
Nuts provide numerous health benefits overall, with the health benefits of pistachios showcasing just a handful of them. Not only are nuts a great snack rich with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but they also provide lots of antioxidants. Pecans have an ORAC value of nearly 18,000, while walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds are also good choices.
There are other antioxidant rich foods, but the top 5 above should be more than enough to significantly boost your antioxidant intake. Remember to buy organic as often as possible. Organic produce contains more nutrients and antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties!