You probably already know that a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, consuming alcohol, and smoking may all speed up ageing and illness. But have you ever wondered why?
The answer, in part, can be explained by free radicals.
Free radicals are formed either by metabolic processes occurring in the body or from external sources such as x-rays, ozone, smoking, air pollutants, and industrial chemicals. Free radicals can cause damage to cell walls, cell structure and the genetic material of the cell and oxidise LDL cholesterol leading to heart attacks. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods preserve cell integrity and prevent damage to the DNA. Antioxidants are moleculesthat are known to protect our body from the harmful effects of excess free radicals by binding with oxidants.
It is important to maintain a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Foods high in antioxidants have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic oxidative stress-related diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as coronary heart disease and high blood pressure by scavenging free radicals and inhibiting oxidant formations. Antioxidants, especially flavonoids, help significantly reduce inflammation. It is therefore imperative to consume antioxidant-rich food every day to maintain heart health.
In this article we will reveal 10 of the best antioxidant-rich foods to help you fight free radicals and maintain a healthy heart and other organs in the long run.
Berries are a powerhouse of nutrients. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries are rich sources of vitamins and fibre. Studies reveal that regular consumption of berries can help reduce inflammation and significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Although all the fruits in this family have great health benefits, blueberries can be considered the best among antioxidant-rich foods. It is rich in a specific kind of antioxidant called anthocyanins which help manage complications like obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
2. Dark chocolate
If you want to up your antioxidant intake, consider adding dark chocolate (above 70% cocoa content) to your diet. Research says a single serving is also a source of antioxidants. Dark chocolate has a high cocoa content, a rich source of flavonoids, which have been shown to lower inflammation levels, improve cardiovascular health and maintain normal cholesterol levels in the body. Make sure to not consume in excess and watch the sugar content of these chocolates.
Beetroot contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. They are rich in nitrates that directly impact the smooth functioning of the cardiovascular system. Studies reveal that regular consumption of beetroot juice can improve blood pressure levels, better cognition and help with overall health. Consuming beetroots as a salad before your meal can also be a good way to incorporate them into your daily diet.
Dark leafy vegetables are naturally rich in antioxidants, and spinach is one such good example. It is low in calories and contains many vitamins, minerals and fibres. This green leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins A, C and K, which have many protective benefits for the body. Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
This delicious fruit is a rich source of antioxidants and essential vitamins such as vitamins A and C, lycopene and fibre. Studies reveal that different part of the plant exhibits different benefits. Guava improves blood flow throughout the body, improve digestion, reduce oxidative stress to the heart, and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The nutrients in guava also have beneficial properties for the body.
An essential member of the legumes family, beans are ranked high in the antioxidant food list. They contain a certain kind of antioxidant called kaempferol which has anti-inflammatory benefits. It is also rich in dietary fibre, which can come in handy in improving digestion and forming healthy intestinal micro bacteria. Beans are also good sources of plant protein, these have protective effects and improve overall health.
Among the healthier breakfast choices, oatmeal is packed with protein, dietary fibre, vitamins B, C, E and K and calcium. It is filling and nutritious and can be topped with nuts or vegetables of your choice, making it tasty.Studies show that oats are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, polyphenols, flavonoids and chlorophyll. They scavenge free radicals, protect against cell damage and activate cell repair. Oats are a good source of soluble fibre – beta-gluten. Beta-gluten is beneficial for overall health helping with satiety and reducing cholesterol. A healthy oatmeal breakfast is a good way to incorporate oats into the diet.
Pomegranates are a rich source of many different antioxidants, including ellagic acids, gallic acids, anthocyanins, and ellagitannins. The antioxidants in pomegranates, particularly polyphenols like ellagic acid and tannins, may help reduce inflammation in the body and lower cholesterol levels, which can help prevent heart disease. Pomegranates are a good source of dietary fibre, which is important for maintaining healthy digestion.
One of India’s most loved spice, made it to the top 10 antioxidant food list. Turmeric is also well regarded for its medicinal properties and contains vital components. Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which is anti-inflammatory and increases the body’s ability to produce antioxidants. It also helps in reducing oxidation in the body. Consuming turmeric along with pepper increases its bioavailability. Its anti-inflammatory property makes turmeric and milk a famous home remedy to cure a cold and cough in India.
Last but not least, nuts are considered among foods high in antioxidants. Although they have a high fat and calorie content, they have many health benefits. Nuts contain healthy fatty acids that help overall health. Based on studies, regular nut consumption may have beneficial effects against certain chronic conditions.
Nuts contain many different carotenoids, phytosterols (plant steroids) and ellagic acids with strong antioxidant properties. Also, out of all the nuts, pecan and walnuts have shown the highest ability to scavenge free radicals. A handful of soaked nuts can be consumed first thing in the morning as part of a healthy diet.
So, there you have it, a comprehensive list of the top 10 antioxidant-rich foods you must definitely add to your heart-healthy diet plan to improve your health and overall well-being.
However, eating food that contains antioxidants is not enough; you should also use cooking oils packed with antioxidants. Saffola Total blended cooking oil has an advanced antioxidant system with the power of 5 antioxidants like Oryzanol, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Phytosterol and Squalene. Its active antioxidant system fights free radicals and prevents oxidative damage exhibiting a protective effect on heart health.