So, what are antioxidants, really? They are molecules that prevent the oxidation of other potentially harmful molecules. When these harmful molecules known as free radicals oxidize in our bodies, they can put our bodies in a state of oxidative stress which can damage our DNA and cells, and lead to things like cancer, heart disease and other related diseases. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help reduce the havoc that free radicals cause within our bodies–and slow down the aging process so… more antioxidants the better! The most common chemicals within antioxidants that fight against free radicals are vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, glutathione and phytoestrogens. I thought I’d share some of my favorite antioxidant-rich foods because a) it’s so so important we have a good understanding of the foods we’re consuming aka I love looking at my food in terms of fuel and how it’s benefiting my body with its vitamins, minerals, etc. and b) I try to consume a variety of foods that offer a variety of different nutrients, so hopefully it’ll spark some inspo for you too! OK, here we go:
Berries: Probably one of the most well known antioxidant-rich foods, blueberries in particular are a powerhouse and believed to have the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables. They are full of vitamin C, potassium and a phytonutrient called anthocyanins, which helps regulate blood sugar and maintain brain function.
Cinnamon: Not only is cinnamon an absolutely delicious addition to any coffee, smoothie or dessert, it’s packed full of antioxidants. The list of benefits from cinnamon is a mile long, but it’s most well known for being anti-inflammatory, lowering blood sugar levels and fighting infection. Also, not all cinnamon is created equal, so make sure you are buying Ceylon cinnamon for a few added benefits. Check out this post here for more info.
Green Tea/Matcha: Let’s just say I love matcha green tea so much, I created my own! Meet Genius Matcha by Rachael’s Good Eats. Matcha is actually ground up green tea leaves, which means you’re getting the bulk of the benefits all in the powder. One of the reasons I prefer matcha over coffee is because it’s full of antioxidants. A compound called L-theanine found in matcha actually alters the effect of the caffeine in the tea, which is why you may feel more alert, but can avoid that mid-afternoon crash like you might get from coffee. The chlorophyll found in matcha powder is also a great source of vitamins and antioxidants itself! Click here to try my matcha collab with Genius Brand. We supercharged it with Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps mushroom for added brain + immune health 🙂
Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Butternut Squash: Remember how when you were younger and everyone said carrots helped your vision? Well, they weren’t lying! Orange vegetables are high in vitamin A and contain a large amount of phytochemicals and beta-carotene that promotes vision and prevents macular degeneration. See if you can switch some of your carbohydrate sources for these items for an added boost of nutrients! I love sauteed sweet potatoes– I peel them (though, you don’t need to), slice them into 1/4-inch half moons and saute in avocado oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat with s + p. Cook them until they get a bit charred and it’s a game changer!!
Spinach: Green, leafy vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Spinach is one of the richest dietary sources of quercetin–an antioxidant that may prevent inflammation and infection. It also contains zeaxanthin and lutein which help protect eyes from the damage of sunlight. I love buying a tub or two at the store and throwing it straight into our freezer. I’ll grab a big handful of it each morning and throw into my smoothies– I even got Bridge on this routine!!
Dark Chocolate: High quality dark chocolate has proven to have high levels of antioxidants and nutrients such as iron, fiber, magnesium and copper. Dark chocolate can actually have even more antioxidants per ounce than blueberries or raspberries, but just make sure to keep an eye on its sugar content. The higher percentage of dark chocolate, the less sugar!
Brazil nuts: These nuts are highly nutritious, energy dense, and one of the most concentrated dietary forms of selenium–you only need to eat two a day in order to get your daily value of selenium. Brazil nuts may help reduce inflammation, regulate thyroid function and support your heart and immune system. I like to treat it like a supplement and take 1-2 a day 🙂
Turmeric: The magic ingredient found in turmeric is curcumin. Not only does curcumin help fight off free radicals in your body, it also helps stimulate your body’s own antioxidant defense. It’s hard for curcumin to be absorbed within the bloodstream, so make sure if you are adding turmeric to a smoothie, ginger detox shot, soups, etc., you also add in a pinch of black pepper to activate it! This helps it become more bioavailable in the body.
Salmon: Fresh wild-caught salmon is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids–an essential nutrient that helps protects brain cells. Salmon is a great source of quality protein, B vitamins, potassium and even selenium. The antioxidant, astaxanthin, is what gives salmon its pink color. When astaxanthin works together with the omega-3 fatty acids, it’s believed to help protect the nervous system and the brain from inflammation. Try these super yum sesame salmon rice bowls from my site.
Pomegranate: The antioxidant potential for pomegranates can be found in both its juice and its seeds. Pomegranate juice has more antioxidant potential than red wine or green tea. As for its seeds, they start to lose their nutritional benefits the longer they sit, so make sure to eat them fresh! When they’re in season I love adding them to anything from chia pudding and yogurt to salads.