Antioxidants are compounds in food that help you look better and feel better. Plant-based foods – particularly spices, herbs, and vegetables – generally have more antioxidants than animal products. What follows is a list of vegetables that are the highest in antioxidants.
A list – such as the one provided here – can be beneficial since science has established that your health is more likely to thrive when you consume enough antioxidants than when you don’t.
How to Eat Antioxidants (and Why You Should)
Free radicals are unhelpful molecules created within your body during digestion or exposure to environmental stressors.
Higher levels of free radicals can cause bodily harm and multiple illnesses.
Antioxidants are helpful molecules that work to neutralize free radicals. Antioxidants are found in food, particularly vegetables, spices, and fruits.
Generally, the more antioxidants you eat, the more your health can improve. There is even an established connection between nutrition and the pace of skin aging.
The National Center of Biotechnology Information (from the US) provides detailed research revealing the antioxidant potency in most available foods worldwide. The antioxidant content is represented in mmol/100g.
Additional research sources – for what science has established are the healthiest foods – can be found in the Polyphenols-100 List, Nutritional Landscape 1000 List, the Lalonde list, and the PFV Rating List.
There are differences in the antioxidant content of identical foods based on how and where they are grown and prepared (raw, boiled, sauteed, etc.). So this list represents an approximation.
The following foods have been chosen because they have more antioxidants and are easier to find and prepare.
Foods intentionally left off this list contain higher levels of molds and lectins – for people who wish to reap the longevity benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet and those with autoimmune challenges.
Potency of Antioxidants within Popular Vegetables
- Curly Kale 2.8
- Broccoli (cooked) 2.5
- Parsley 2.0
- Beet 1.7
- Brussel Sprouts 1.3
- Spinach 1.0
- Celery .80
- Cauliflower (cooked) .80
- Artichoke .70
- Vegetable Juice .50
- Avocado .44
- Radish .40
- Asparagus .37
- Sweet Potato (boiled) .34
- Lettuce Romaine. .21
- Garlic .20
- Carrots 0.1
- Zucchini or Squash 0.1
- Cucumber .04
Additional winners include watercress, cilantro, cabbage, and chard.
Potency within Spices
- Clove 277
- Mint 116
- Allspice 100
- Cinnamon 77
- Mint 72
- Nutmeg 33
- Ginger 20.3
- Tumeric 12
- Paprika 8.6
- White Pepper 3.9
- Cardamom 2.4
Potency of Antioxidants within Snacks
- Lemon Balm Tea 125 (I have this each night after dinner)
- Dark Chocolate 14.9
- Espresso 14.2
- Moringa Tea 11.9
- Pecan 8.5
- Nettle Tea 3.7
- Dried Plum 3.2
- Stevia Drops 3.2
- Dried Apricot 3.1
- Coffee 2.5
- Pomegranate Juice 2.1
- Black Olive 1.7
- Green Tea 1.5
- Black Tea 1.0
Additional winners – not just for antioxidants but for their overall potential positive impact on health – include blueberries, brazil nuts (in moderation), hazelnuts, almonds, coconuts, cherries, bison, turkey, and olive oil.
How to Use These Lists Strategically
There are important considerations when choosing from these lists of antioxidants to improve your diet, physical health, and appearance:
- Firstly, remember that the richer foods still have to fit within your daily caloric allotment. Bison, coconuts, and olive oil might be good for you in small, strategic doses – but not good for you if consumed in excess.
- Secondly, foods that are higher in sugar must be ingested sparingly. Cherries, plums, apricots, and dark chocolate are excellent for you, but only in moderation.
Ideas for Fitting These Foods More Easily into Your Daily Diet
These menu ideas will help you to infuse more antioxidants into your daily diet:
- An easy breakfast can be wild blueberries in a bowl – topped with cultured coconut milk (dairy-free unsweetened yogurt), and sprinkled with cinnamon. (I have this breakfast every morning.)
- Greens smoothies are among the most effective ways to infuse your body with the antioxidants found within vegetables. An advanced-level smoothie can contain kale, spinach, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, microgreen sprouts (of radish and artichoke), broccoli, romaine lettuce, celery, lemon juice, turmeric, cayenne, and brazil nut. (I have this green smoothie daily.)
- The antioxidants from spices can be a pivotal ingredient in a gluten-free “protein fitness cookie” with lower sugar and lower fat, such as in this recipe for Spice Cookies. (I have one directly after my workout).
- An easy dinner is a bison or turkey burger, served with sauteed greens – kale and spinach – spiced with white pepper, sea salt, and chipotle spice. Additionally, you can add a side of sweet potatoes, zucchini, or carrots.
- “Super Salads” make a great meal. A base of spring greens topped with diced cucumber, shredded carrot, and finely sliced celery – tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Top with avocado and either scrambled free-range eggs or chicken.
- You can have a dessert of apple slices topped with pecan butter for heavy workout days.
Antioxidants can help your health and appearance to improve. You can get more antioxidants into your daily diet with the above list of the best vegetables and menu ideas.
Additional Sources and Recommended Reading:
Protecting Against Chronic Oxidative Stress-Related Diseases – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/
TC Luoma’s Ideas for Optimal Eating – https://www.t-nation.com/lean-built-eating/news-best-healthiest-foods-list/
Connection between Nutrition and Skin Aging – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/