They are important allies of our health and also preserve our beauty. Foods rich in antioxidants help us counteract the damage caused by free radicals, molecules that form in cells. Specifically, free radicals are waste products, which have negative effects on our bodies. They are, in fact, the cause of oxidative stress, at the origin of certain forms of cancer or chronic diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Finally, they are responsible for our aging.
The action of free radicals is accentuated by risk factors, such as stress, UV rays, pollution, bad eating habits, smoking and alcohol intake. To keep their negative effects at bay, however, there are the antioxidants taken with the diet.
What Antioxidant-Rich Foods Contain
Foods rich in antioxidants are, above all, fruit and vegetables. To assess the antioxidant content of a food, a test called FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) is carried out. The greater the evaluation of FRAP, the greater the number of antioxidants present in the food analysed.
The antioxidants are mainly consumed with foods of plant origin such as vegetables and fruit, but are also found in fish and dairy products. The antioxidants introduced with the diet are:
- Vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E;
- minerals such as copper, selenium, zinc;
- nutrients such as carotenoids and polyphenols.
The Mediterranean diet, which is based mainly on the consumption of fruit and vegetables, is very rich in foods that contain antioxidants.
So Here are Some of the Foods Rich in Antioxidants
- The tomato. Its color, as in other red foods, derives from the content of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the skin, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, certain cancers related to the prostate and digestive system. The tomato, remember, is a typical food of the period from June to September.
- Coffee. Thanks to the content of chlorogenic acids, it has a strong antioxidant power. It seems useful to prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
- The Green Tea. With its content of polyphenols, bioflavonoids and tannins is a real concentrate of antioxidants: facilitates digestion; is useful for reducing the absorption of sugars; remineralizes bones; strengthens skin and hair.
- Cocoa. It contains catechins, polyphenols with vasodilator action, useful to reduce blood pressure and regulate cholesterol. A piece of dark chocolate improves the mood and protects the heart.
- Cereals. Better if whole, they are sources of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
- Legumes. Lentils, beans and chickpeas are rich in polyphenols called saponins, which are found particularly in the skin and have anti-cancer properties.
- Fish. It contains omega-3 essential fatty acids which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and play a role in protecting the heart. Excellent are salmon, mackerel, swordfish, herring.
- The extra virgin olive oil. It is a powerful antioxidant rich in vitamin, better if taken raw.
- Oilseeds. Good as a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon. They ensure a good intake of fiber and contain minerals such as iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and also have omega 3. They are great for brain function and heart health, you should take at least 30 grams per day.
- Spices. Many of them contain some of the most powerful antioxidants. Some of them are classified (in terms of quantity of antioxidants) as even higher levels of fruit and vegetables. Turmeric, for example, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also seems to play a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
To preserve the power of foods rich in antioxidants, it is best to eat them raw or just blanched.