I can’t imagine why, in spite of all the detox diet articles I’ve written on this blog, that I’ve never written a post before this about the best antioxidant foods. Why do you need to eat antioxidant foods? Read on to find out how important they are in your diet regardless if you are following a detox plan or not.
1. Antioxidants are compounds that the body uses to help fight against free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules that are produced in your body naturally as a byproduct of normal metabolism.
They cause serious and widespread damage to your cells and DNA when they become out of control. This can and often does lead to illness, aging, and disease. The damage caused by free radicals is known as oxidative stress. Therefore, it will be very beneficial to be consuming antioxidant-rich foods in order to protect your body and keep it healthy.
2. The detoxification process that goes on naturally in the body results in a certain amount of free radicals being created. So, it’s important that we eat enough antioxidant foods to counteract them.
Your body utilizes a number of different mechanisms to neutralize free radicals. Most of these use antioxidants. They can be either nutrients or enzyme systems which directly counteract oxidants or regenerates antioxidant nutrients.
An example of this is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is not stored in our bodies but once it has reduced a free radical, it can be regenerated and therefore it can exist in the body as a functioning antioxidant for some time.
Your bodies own enzyme system relies on having enough of the right nutrients for it to function. These nutrients which include copper, zinc, manganese, selenium and iron come from your food so once again it’s important to make sure you are eating a healthy diet with the right foods.
Here, we’ll look at what some of the best antioxidant foods are and how they can provide benefits as part of a detox diet.
The Best Antioxidant Foods
Blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants since they contain more of them than most other fruits and vegetables. This makes them an excellent choice that you can pick up from the produce section while you food shop.
The antioxidants in blueberries help protect against free radical damage, delay the onset of aging in the brain, and reduce inflammation. They are also a nutritional powerhouse that provides a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that we need from our diet.
One antioxidant, in particular, anthocyanin, found in blueberries can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and keep blood pressure stable by lowering harmful LDL cholesterol.
According to Joseph Pizzorno, in his book Total Wellness, you need to eat 4 oz blueberries a day to help stimulate rejuvenation.
When buying blueberries, it’s best to look for organic if you can. Although they don’t make EWG’s Dirty Dozen for pesticide residue they are listed as having a high pesticide residue score.
2) Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a healthy treat that contains an abundance of nutrition and is loaded with antioxidants. These all come from the “cocoa” contained in it. Therefore, the higher the cocoa content, the better.
There are even more antioxidants in dark chocolate than you find in berries. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonols and polyphenols, which help to protect the heart by improving our cholesterol profile. Flavanols can also help to reduce insulin resistance.
A group of 10 studies showed that foods containing cocoa could help to lower blood pressure markers too.
Do make sure you buy a low sugar variety or preferably a brand that is sweetened with stevia or it may have the opposite effect. Cocoa beans get sprayed heavily with chemicals too so buy organic chocolate if you can.
Related reading: Can Healthy Chocolate form part of a Detox Diet?
Another berry that makes the list is strawberries. Strawberries are high in Vitamin C, which has been known to be a potent antioxidant that fights against free radicals and helps promote cell health.
Like blueberries, they also contain anthocyanin, which helps to increase good HDL cholesterol while lowering bad LDL cholesterol. This makes strawberries a very helpful addition to your diet to prevent heart disease.
It’s best to buy organic strawberries because they come top of EWG’s Dirty Dozen for pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables.
Kale is part of the cruciferous family, more commonly known as “greens.” Kale is very high in antioxidants, especially red kale, which contains up to almost twice the antioxidant levels as ordinary green kale.
The antioxidants found in kale include quercetin and kaempferol. These powerful antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, help lower pressure, reduce the effects of depression, and may even protect against cancer. It will be a great idea to include some kale into your diet.
Related reading: How a Detox Diet Can Help Prevent Cancer
Again, organic is best as kale comes 3rd on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.
Beets are a very nutritious vegetable that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This makes them a great addition to be included as a part of a detox diet.
Some antioxidants contained in beets form what are called betalains. Betalains are what make beets red-colored and have been shown by research to potentially protect against cancers that occur within the digestive system.
Betalains have the effect of stimulating detox enzymes in the liver, especially glutathione-s-transferase, a Phase II detox pathway. Beets are often used in detox smoothies and detox diet dishes for this reason.
Related reading: How to use Superfood Beets for Liver Detox
Other antioxidants found in beets can help lower inflammation. Supplements with beet extract have been found to reduce certain types of arthritic pain due to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Spinach is high in two antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are particularly beneficial in promoting eye health by protecting the eyes against damage occurring from UV light.
Spinach is also fairly high in Vitamin C and also contains beta-carotene and flavanols. This makes spinach a great one for helping to fight against free radical damage, protect our DNA from aging, and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Spinach, like strawberries and kale has been found by EWG’s tests to be high in pesticide residue so my advice is to buy organic produce. No point in eating these for the antioxidant content if you are also going to introduce toxic pesticides into your body.
Here, we’ve discussed what some of the best antioxidant foods are that you can include as part of your every day diet as well as any detox diet you follow. These include blueberries, dark chocolate, strawberries, kale, beets, and spinach.
Whether you’re choosing to follow a detox diet, in need of healing, or just generally want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, these foods can be very beneficial. Not only do they contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, but they’re also rich in powerful antioxidants too.
By adding these foods into your meal plan, not only will you get to enjoy the rich flavors and taste that they give, but also good health, vibrancy, and vitality. Also, you’ll even be able to enjoy a tasty treat regularly with the addition of some dark chocolate in your diet too.
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