Antioxidants are the hot buzz word in the health food world these days. Whether you eat them to promote weight loss, prevent aging, or enhance your heart, they’re the go-to nutrient everyone wants more of. You can spend tons of money at the store loading up on vitamins, supplements, powders, and other neat items that boast a high antioxidant content, or you can just eat some awesome foods and drink certain beverages which contain antioxidants instead.
Spinach, quinoa, kale, acai, goji berries, red wine, dark chocolate, walnuts, almonds, and cacao, broccoli, and berries are all amazing for you, but most of us know that already. Eat and drink more of the uncommon sources of antioxidants and improve your health one step at a time. Check out some of our favorite sources of antioxidants that you might not think of at first. They’re actually higher in antioxidants than common foods and also affordable in terms of serving size for the benefits that they offer.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are well known for their high amounts of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium, but they’re also a terrific source of antioxidants. Chia seeds have been linked to many benefits, from better blood pressure and better skin, to weight loss and even prevention of high cholesterol. If you think chia seeds are boring and outdated in their superfood status, think again. Try this yummy French Toast Chia Pudding and these Raw Hemp Chia Seed Bars as a new way to love them all over again.
2. Artichoke Hearts
Would you believe artichoke hearts actually have more antioxidant density (the amount per serving) of any other fruit and vegetable, including blueberries, kale, and even dark chocolate in various tests. It’s likely due to you being able to get the benefits in just one or two artichoke hearts versus one cup or even half a cup of other foods that are high in antioxidants. You can buy canned, frozen, or fresh artichoke hearts, but be sure to buy BPA-free and organic versions when possible if you choose canned.
3. Black Tea
Green tea gets all the hype, but black tea is actually higher in antioxidants than the green or white versions. The difference has to do with the fermentation process of the black tea leaves, which increases antioxidant production. Black tea can be enjoyed plain or in delicious versions like chai and breakfast teas. Black tea has strong anti-inflammatory properties and helps enhance immune system production.
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice seems like a rather boring grain, but there’s a reason it’s so popular, aside from its low-calorie and gluten-free benefits. It may improve and prevent diabetes and lower blood pressure, and it is rich in polyphenols that improve heart health and offer anti-inflammatory properties. Brown rice is often fermented to produce sprouted brown rice protein, which is a common ingredient in many vegan superfood and protein supplements. See this article on How to Cook the Perfect Brown Rice.
Mushrooms are an awesome source of vitamin D (derived from the soil’s bacteria interacting with the sun) and they have been found to prevent and treat breast cancer. Mushrooms are also low in calories and can be eaten cooked or raw. Just be sure to wash them well and dry them before storing them. Frozen may offer the same benefits since nutrients are locked in during the flash freezing process. Try these Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms.
Coffee contains more antioxidants than most all fruits and vegetables and has been linked to better liver health, disease prevention, and treating depression. Just be sure to brew organic coffee since coffee beans can be highly sprayed with pesticides in conventional form. Keep it to one or two cups and learn how to make your coffee as healthy as possible.
Soy gets a bad rap, but in organic, non-GMO form, it’s actually awesome for you. Soy has been repeatedly linked to lowering diabetes, depression, cancer, and high blood pressure.Studies that link soy to increased risks of breast cancer are far fewer than those that link soy to breast cancer prevention. Soy’s isoflavones have high antioxidant properties and can help lower cholesterol. See these articles, How Much is Too Much? Soy in a Healthy Plant-Based Diet and Why Is Everyone Hatin’ On Soy These Days?
Oats are rich in anti-inflammatory properties and may lead to better skin health for this very reasons. They also lower heart disease risks, help lower blood pressure and fill you up due to their soluble fiber content. Try having a delicious oat porridge with breakfast and consider having them daily for best results. You can also try superfood overnight oats, which are a favorite of mine. If you’re sensitive to gluten or just want to avoid it, buy organic certified gluten-free oats to be safe. Try this Breakfast Parfait with Oats and Blueberry Pudding.
Turmeric is a marvelous spice to use for its antioxidant properties. It’s rich in curcumin, which lowers inflammation and improves heart health. Turmeric has also been linked to healthy digestion, relief of ulcers, and found to help treat depression and cancer. See this piece on How to Get More Turmeric in Your Diet Right Now.
10. Ripe Bananas
Bananas seem simple enough, but they’re much more powerful than we give them credit for. Aside from the fact that bananas are rich in pectin, a fiber that fills you up faster and helps promote digestive health, they’re also a fabulous source of nutrients. They key to increasing the antioxidants you consume from bananas comes down to the ripeness of the fruit. Brown bananas aren’t just great for freezing and making banana ice cream - they’re also higher in antioxidants than their prettier, yellow, and starchier forms. Ripe fruits are also easier to digest and taste much better since their starches convert to sugars. Antioxidants increase rapidly as fruit ripens, with bananas being one of the most prominent (and affordable) fruits you can choose.
What’s your favorite of these uncommon sources of antioxidants?
Image source: How to Make a Healthier Cup of Coffee