Eating foods high in antioxidants can help improve your health in many ways. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that damage cells and may even protect against chronic diseases, like heart disease. They can fight against signs of aging and often have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with things like chronic pain.
While there are many foods that contain antioxidants, these 25 are among the top.
25 Foods High in Antioxidants
Blueberries may be low in calories, but they pack a punch when it comes to antioxidants. In fact, some studies suggest that blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among common fruits.
Wild blueberries have an even higher concentration of antioxidants, including the flavonoid compounds anthocyanins.
One great way to incorporate blueberries into your diet is to add them to your morning oatmeal:
Like other nuts, pecans are a great source of minerals and healthy fats, but they’re also a great source of antioxidants, specifically vitamin E.
Among common tree nuts, pecans have some of the highest levels of antioxidants.
One study found that consuming pecans daily for eight weeks increased blood antioxidant levels. Another study found that people who consumed pecans experienced a reduction in triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
Apples contain both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This popular fruit contains a number of phytochemicals (naturally occurring antioxidants), including:
- Chlorogenic acid
Apples are rich in vitamin C, which helps support immune system health.
Artichokes are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber and minerals. They’re especially high in chlorogenic acid, which research shows may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
The level of antioxidants in artichokes depends on how you prepare them. Boiling can raise antioxidant levels by eight times, and steaming can raise levels by 15 times. Frying artichokes, on the other hand, can reduce antioxidant levels.
Strawberries are sweet and delicious, but they’re also nutrient-rich, especially in antioxidants. They’re a great source of vitamin C and a host of other vitamins and minerals.
Strawberries contain a special type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins give the berry its red color and can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of bad cholesterol and raising levels of good cholesterol.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that’s a member of the same family as cauliflower and broccoli. This leafy green vegetable is one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. It’s rich in:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Every 3.5-ounce serving of this plant provides 2.7 mmol of antioxidants. Red varieties of kale, such as red Russian kale, may have twice the levels of antioxidants because they contain anthocyanin antioxidants.
7. Dark Chocolate
Did you know that dark chocolate is a superfood? Dark chocolate has high levels of antioxidants and minerals – up to 15 mmol per 3.5 ounces. Those antioxidant levels are higher than those of raspberries and blueberries.
Dark chocolate has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease because it can help reduce bad cholesterol and promote healthy blood pressure.
When people think about antioxidant-rich foods, raspberries are one of the first foods that come to mind. They’re tart, delicious and nutrient-dense.
Some studies have linked the antioxidants and nutrients in raspberries to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. The anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant) in these berries can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Beans, or legumes, are a great source of fiber, but most people don’t realize that they’re also high in antioxidants.
Green broad beans, for example, contain up to 2 mmol of antioxidants per serving of 3.5 ounces.
Some beans contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and the risk of cancer growth.
10. Goji Berries
Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and it’s easy to see why. These dried berries are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
They contain a special type of antioxidant known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Goji berries can also help raise blood antioxidant levels.
Leafy greens like spinach are high in antioxidants. Spinach is especially rich in nutrients and two important antioxidants: zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds help protect your eyes from UV rays and help combat free radical damage to your eyes.
Love them or hate them, beets are a nutrient powerhouse. They’re loaded with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, folate and iron.
Specifically, beets are rich in a type of antioxidants called betalains. Betalains give this root vegetable its red color and can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including colon.
13. Red Cabbage
Red cabbage, also known as purple cabbage, is rich in vitamins C, A and K as well as antioxidants. Compared to its green cousin, red cabbage has a higher level of antioxidants because it contains anthocyanins, which give this vegetable its red color.
Pro Tip: Boil or stir-fry your cabbage to boost its antioxidant levels.
Broccoli is well-known for its health benefits. This green vegetable is nutrient-rich and contains a high level of antioxidants.
Broccoli is especially high in glucoraphanin, a compound that converts into an antioxidant known as sulforaphane. Sulforaphane can help reduce cholesterol levels and oxidative stress.
Potatoes get a bad reputation because they are high in carbohydrates and are often prepared in unhealthy ways. But when made properly, potatoes can be a healthy part of your diet.
Potatoes are also high in antioxidants, including:
- Vitamin C
- Anthocyanin compounds
Purple potatoes typically have higher antioxidant levels. Rather than eating fried potatoes, try adding baked or roasted potatoes into your diet.
Tree nuts are nutrient-rich and high in antioxidants, and that includes walnuts. In fact, walnuts have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, thanks to:
- Vitamin E
Studies have found that eating walnut-rich meals can reduce levels of bad cholesterol.
Oatmeal is the go-to healthy breakfast for people around the world. This simple cereal grain is high in antioxidants. In particular, oats are rich in avenanthramides, a type of antioxidant that’s not found in other cereal grains.
They help relax arteries and can even reduce inflammation.
Oatmeal can be prepared in many different ways and can even topped with other antioxidant-rich fruits, like strawberries and blueberries.
18. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are considered a superfood because they are so high in nutrients and antioxidants. They contain phenolic acids, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin E.
These compounds can help reduce inflammation and fight free radicals.
You can find pumpkin seeds in the store (choose plain or unsalted variations), or you can roast your own seeds.
Cranberries are another great source of antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C and vitamin K. These tart berries have some of the highest levels of phenols of all common fruits, and they have anti-inflammatory properties that support health and well-being.
Cocoa has an abundance of flavanols that are strong antioxidants. Polyphenols are found in cocoa, which are linked to anti-inflammation, improvements in blood flow, lower blood pressure, blood sugar management and other health benefits.
Polyphenols are known to help improve brain function and even blood flow to the brain.
Turmeric adds a ton of flavor to food, and the compound, called curcumin, found in it offers both anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. Research shows that turmeric may help with:
- Metabolic syndrome
- So much more
Ginger adds zest and freshness to teas, foods and other drinks. Gingerol is a natural component in Ginger that is known to promote gut health and digestion. Add this ingredient into your meals if you need:
- Nausea relief
- Relief from bloating and gas
- Anti-inflammatory help
- Much more
Basil adds a punch of flavor to everything from Pestos to pasta sauce and even pizza. Basil is known for helping reduce oxidative stress thanks to high levels of numerous antioxidants:
Together, the antioxidants may help with heart disease prevention, inflammation reduction, blood sugar regulation and even offer protection against infection.
Oranges are known for their high levels of Vitamin C and fiber, but this delicious fruit also has a strong antioxidant profile that includes:
Each antioxidant plays its own role in boosting your health, including helping regulate blood pressure and assisting with anti-inflammation. Beta-cryptoxanthin may help protect cells from oxidative damage and lycopene may reduce heart disease risks.
Tomatoes are a guilty pleasure of mine, and they give you a massive antioxidant boost. Tomatoes are thought to have anti-cancer properties, thanks to high levels of:
Studies show a correlation between tomatoes and the reduction of cancer cell proliferation and cell apoptosis. Additionally, one medium tomato can provide 28% of your Vitamin C and contains potassium, Vitamin K1 and B9.
Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and also have anti-inflammatory effects, helping reduce inflammation in the body and protect us from diseases. Make sure to save this list of foods that are high in antioxidants and add them to your diet!