Antioxidants are important compounds in food that neutralize free radicals. The compounds prevent and repair the damage done by oxidation in your body's cells. To give your body a healthy dose of antioxidants it needs, eat these seven common antioxidant-rich foods to boost your overall health and immune system this year.
- Red wine (or dark grape juice) is packed with anthocyanins and catechins, antioxidant compounds that slow down the artery-clogging process and prevent heart disease. It also contains resveratrol, a compound linked to age-related genes. Researchers believe it can offset the risk of Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease.
- Green, black and oolong tea all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which is full of thearubigins, epicatechins and catechins. These are different compounds from those found in fruits and vegetables. These compounds block toxic chemicals associated with smoking cigarettes. They reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers.
- Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich if you stick to at least 70 percent cacao. It can prevent heart disease and reduce blood pressure. Researchers believe milk chocolate isn't effective because milk may interfere with antioxidant absorption from chocolate, according to the Italian National Institute for Food Research and Nutrition.
- Kale is one of the world's healthiest vegetables. It's packed with nutrients, including carotenoids and flavonoids, which reduce cancer risk. Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin compounds, which help protect eye health. Kale is also filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and even some heart-healthy omega 3-fatty acids.
- Oats have avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart and is unique to oats. Also, oats are antimicrobial, and their fiber content helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream.
- Tomatoes are the most common source of lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
- Blueberries are rich in disease-fighting compounds. All berries are superfoods, which are foods that are high in antioxidants and nutrients. Just one cup of berries can provide your recommended allowance for a day. Blueberries provide 10 times the antioxidants you need. They also prevent Alzheimer's and heart disease. If you can't get fresh berries, try dried or frozen berries. Dried berries contain high amounts of quercetin and anthocyanin.
For more information about antioxidants or other health issues, contact your Atlanta health care professional.