If you're not a fan of fruits and veggies, you may be missing out on the benefits of antioxidants since these are among the best sources of these beneficial substances. Antioxidants help protect you from cell damage caused by free radicals, which may lower your risk for cancer and heart disease. Examples include vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium and lutein.
Fruits are good sources of antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals, carotenoids and vitamin C. The fruits highest in total antioxidants include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cherries and plums. Red fruits provide lycopene and orange fruits contain beta-carotene. Cantaloupe, kiwi, oranges, strawberries and papayas are among the best sources for vitamin C.
When it comes to vegetables, legumes are one of the best sources of antioxidants, including small red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans. Artichokes and russet potatoes are also antioxidant all-stars. Tomatoes provide lycopene; corn, peas, broccoli and green leafy veggies provide lutein; and peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, spinach, beet greens and broccoli provide beta-carotene. Spinach and kale contain vitamin E, and Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, kale and cauliflower are among the better sources of vitamin C.
Nuts, Oils and Spices
Pecans are the nuts with the highest antioxidant content, and are among the top 20 foods when it comes to antioxidant content. Walnuts and hazelnuts are also good options. Cinnamon, oregano and cloves are the spices that provide the most antioxidants. Nuts are good sources of selenium and vitamin E, and many vegetable oils also provide significant amounts of vitamin E.
Oats, green tea, red wine and coffee all provide some antioxidants, as does dark chocolate. While meat and dairy products aren't good sources of antioxidants overall, animal products do provide you with some selenium, and liver, eggs, butter and milk also contain vitamin A. Just keep in mind that these foods also can be high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, so you want to consume them in moderation.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.