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12 healthy foods that are rich in antioxidants

12 Gesunde Nahrungsmittel, die reich an Antioxidantien sind

Antioxidants are compounds that are produced in your body and are also found in food. They help your cells defend themselves against damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals.

When free radicals accumulate in the body, they cause a condition known as oxidative stress. This can damage your DNA and other important structures in your cells. Sadly, oxidative stress can also increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer (1), as well as impair your recovery after exercise.

Fortunately, a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your antioxidant blood levels, which can help your body fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases.

Scientists use different tests to measure the antioxidant content of foods. One of the best tests is the so-called FRAP (ferric reducing Ability of Plasma) analysis. This measures the antioxidant content of foods by how well they neutralize a specific free radical (2). The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants the food in question contains.

Here are the top 12 healthy foods that are rich in antioxidants.

1. dark chocolate

Fortunately for chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is very nutritious. It contains more cocoa than regular chocolate and is also richer in minerals and antioxidants.

Based on FRAP analysis, dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. This is even more than blueberries and strawberries, which provide up to 9.2 and 2.3 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams, respectively (3). In addition, the antioxidants found in cocoa and dark chocolate have been linked to impressive health benefits such as less inflammation and reduced risk factors for heart disease.

A review of 10 studies looked at the link between cocoa consumption and blood pressure in healthy people and people with high blood pressure. Consumption of cocoa-containing products such as dark chocolate reduced systolic blood pressure (the upper value) by an average of 4.5 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by an average of 2.5 mmHg (4).

Another study found that dark chocolate could reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing antioxidant levels in the blood, increasing 'good' HDL cholesterol and preventing the oxidation of 'bad' LDL cholesterol (5). Oxidized LDL cholesterol is harmful because it promotes inflammation in the blood vessels, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Summary: Dark chocolate is delicious, nutritious and one of the best sources of antioxidants. In general, the higher the cocoa content of dark chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains.

2. pecans

Pecans are a type of nut native to Mexico and South America. They are a good source of healthy fats and minerals and also contain high levels of antioxidants. Based on a FRAP analysis, pecans contain 10.6 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3).

In addition, pecans can help increase antioxidant levels in the blood. For example, one study found that people who consumed 20% of their daily calories in the form of pecans experienced a significant increase in blood antioxidant levels (7).

In another study, people who consumed pecans experienced a 26 to 33% reduction in oxidized LDL cholesterol levels in the blood within two to eight hours. High levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood are a risk factor for heart disease (8). However, even though pecans are an excellent source of healthy fats, they are also quite high in calories. Therefore, it is important to eat pecans in moderate amounts to avoid excessive calorie intake.

Summary: Pecans are rich in minerals, healthy fats and antioxidants. They can also help increase antioxidant levels in the blood and lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.

3. blueberries

Even though they provide few calories, blueberries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. According to a FRAP analysis, blueberries contain 9.2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3).

In fact, several studies have suggested that blueberries contain the highest amount of antioxidants of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables (9,10). In addition, test tube and animal studies have shown that blueberries may delay age-related decline in brain function (11). Scientists suspect that the antioxidants contained in blueberries may be responsible for this effect. This effect is believed to be due to a neutralization of harmful free radicals, a reduction in inflammation and changes in the expression of certain genes (11).

In addition to this, the antioxidants found in blueberries - and in particular a type known as anthocyanins - have been shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease, as well as lower LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure (12). Summary: Blueberries are among the best sources of antioxidants. They are rich in anthocyanins and other antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and delay age-related decline in brain function.

4. strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most popular berries around. They are sweet, versatile and a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants (13). Based on a FRAP analysis, strawberries provide up to 5.4 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3).

In addition, strawberries contain a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which give them their red color. Strawberries that are higher in anthocyanins tend to have a richer red color (14).

Scientific research has shown that anthocyanins may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of bad LDL cholesterol and increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol (15, 16). A review of 10 studies found that taking an anthocyanin supplement significantly lowered LDL cholesterol levels in people who either had heart disease or high LDL cholesterol levels (17).

Summary: Like other berries, strawberries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

5 Artichokes

Artichokes are a delicious and nutritious vegetable that is not particularly common in the Western diet. Artichokes have a long history in nutrition and alternative medicine and have been used since ancient times to treat conditions such as jaundice (18).

Artichokes are also an excellent source of fiber, minerals and antioxidants (19). Based on a FRAP analysis, artichokes contain up to 4.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). Artichokes are particularly rich in antioxidants known as chlorogenic acid. Studies have shown that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of chlorogenic acid may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (20, 21).

The antioxidant content of artichokes can vary based on their preparation. Boiling artichokes can increase their antioxidant content eightfold and steaming can increase antioxidant content up to fifteenfold. However, roasting or frying artichokes can reduce their antioxidant content (22).

Summary: Artichokes are the vegetable with the highest antioxidant content. Their antioxidant content can vary based on how they are prepared.

6 Goji berries

Goji berries are the fruits of two related plants - Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years. Goji berries are marketed as a superfood because they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (23, 24).

Based on a FRAP analysis, goji berries contain 4.3 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). In addition, goji berries contain unique antioxidants called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. These antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer and may help fight skin aging (25, 26).

In addition, goji berries may be effective in increasing antioxidant levels in the blood. In one study, healthy elderly people consumed a milk-based goji berry drink daily for 90 days. At the end of the study, their blood antioxidant levels had increased by 57% (27).

Even though goji berries are nutritious, regular consumption can be costly. Furthermore, there are only a handful of studies on the effects of goji berries in humans. Although these studies support the health benefits of goji berries, more human studies are needed.

Summary: Goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants, including a unique type known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. These have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer and may also help fight skin ageing.

7. raspberries

Raspberries are soft, tart berries that are often used in desserts. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants (28). Based on a FRAP analysis, raspberries contain up to 4 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3).

Several studies have linked the antioxidants and other compounds contained in raspberries to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. One study conducted in a test tube found that these compounds in raspberries were able to kill 90% of stomach cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer cells in the sample tested (29).

A review of 5 studies concluded that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of black raspberries could slow down and suppress the effects of different types of cancer (30).

In addition, the antioxidants contained in raspberries - especially anthocyanins - could reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. This could reduce the risk of heart disease (31, 32, 33).

However, most of the evidence for the health benefits of raspberries is based on test tube studies, which means that further human studies are needed before definitive recommendations can be made.

Summary: Raspberries are nutritious, delicious and packed with antioxidants. Like blueberries, raspberries are rich in anthocyanins and have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

8. kale

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and a member of the group of vegetables bred from the species Brassica oleracea. Other members of this family include broccoli and cauliflower. Kale is one of the most nutritious green vegetables on the planet and is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C. It is also rich in antioxidants, providing up to 2.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3, 34).

Red cabbage varieties may contain almost double the amount of antioxidants with up to 4.1 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). This is due to the fact that red varieties of cabbage contain more anthocyanin antioxidants, as well as several other antioxidants that give them their vibrant red color.

Kale is also an excellent plant-based source of calcium, an important mineral that helps maintain bone health and also plays a role in other cellular functions (35)

Summary: Kale is one of the most nutritious green vegetables on the planet, partly due to its high antioxidant content. Although kale is rich in antioxidants, red varieties of kale can contain almost twice the amount of antioxidants.

9. red cabbage

Red cabbage has an impressive nutrient profile. Red cabbage is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A and has a high antioxidant content (36). According to a FRAP analysis, red cabbage provides up to 2.2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). This is more than four times higher than what is found in regular cooked cabbage (3).

This is due to the fact that red cabbage contains anthocyanins - a group of antioxidants that give red cabbage its red color. Anthocyanins are also found in strawberries and raspberries. These anthocyanins have been linked to several health benefits. They may reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers (37).

In addition, red cabbage is a rich source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C may help to strengthen the immune system and keep the skin firm (38, 39).

Interestingly, the way red cabbage is prepared also affects its antioxidant levels. Boiling or briefly sautéing could improve its antioxidant profile, while steaming can reduce its antioxidant content by up to 35% (40).

Summary: Red cabbage is a delicious way to increase antioxidant intake. Its red color comes from its high content of anthocyanins - a group of antioxidants that have been linked to impressive health benefits.

10. beans

Beans are a diverse group of legumes that are inexpensive and healthy. They are also surprisingly high in fiber, which can support healthy digestion.

Beans are also one of the best plant sources of antioxidants. A FRAP analysis found that green broad beans contain up to 2 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). In addition to this, some beans, such as pinto beans, contain a special antioxidant known as kaempferol. This antioxidant has been linked to impressive health benefits such as reduced chronic inflammation and suppression of cancer growth (41, 42).

Several studies have found that kaempferol may suppress the growth of cancer in the breast, bladder, kidney and lung (43, 44, 45, 46). However, most of the studies supporting the benefits of kaempferol have been conducted on animals or in test tubes, which means that further human studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions.

Summary: Beans are an inexpensive way to increase your antioxidant intake. They contain the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been linked to anti-cancer effects in animal and test tube studies.

11. beet

Beet is the root of a plant known as Beta vulgaris. Beet is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, iron, folate and antioxidants (47). Based on a FRAP analysis, beet contains up to 1.7 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams (3). Beet is particularly rich in antioxidants known as betalains. These give beetroot its reddish color and have been linked to health benefits.

For example, several studies conducted in test tubes have linked betalains to a lower risk of cancer of the intestine and digestive tract (48, 49).

In addition, beet contains other compounds that may help suppress inflammation. For example, one study found that taking betalain capsules made from beet extract significantly reduced osteoarthritis pain and inflammation (50).

Summary: Beetroot is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, iron, folate and antioxidants. It contains a group of antioxidants known as betalains, which are associated with impressive health benefits.

12 Spinach

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. It is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is also surprisingly low in calories (51). Based on a FRAP analysis, spinach provides up to 0.9 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Spinach is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin - two antioxidants that may help protect your eyes from damaging UV rays and other harmful wavelengths of light (52, 53, 54). These antioxidants help fight eye damage that free radicals can cause over time.

Summary: Spinach is high in nutrients and antioxidants and low in calories. It is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from free radicals.

Summary

Antioxidants are compounds that the body produces naturally. However, you can also get them from your diet. Antioxidants protect your body from potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals can accumulate in the body and promote oxidative stress. Unfortunately, oxidative stress increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Fortunately, a diet rich in antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of these chronic diseases. By eating a wide variety of the foods featured in this article, you can increase your antioxidant blood levels and take full advantage of their health benefits.

References:

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Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-antioxidants#section13

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