Antioxidants are one of the most popular health trends that can be found naturally in many foods. They have shown benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, boosting the health of blood vessels and immune system, and reducing damage caused by free radicals. (Conquer the aging process with this one thing.) These powerful compounds can be found in foods ranging from broccoli to red wine, and to get your fix, we’ve gathered a few tips to help you spot which foods contain these healthy little powerhouses.
First, the type of food is critical to determining whether it contains antioxidants. Most antioxidants are found in fresh fruits and vegetables, though some beans and lentils contain them too. Skip the processed foods when seeking out the best source of natural nutrition, as the majority of antioxidant-rich foods will be found in the produce aisle.
Next, the color of these items can help you determine the quantity of antioxidants in it. A general rule of thumb is that the darker the item, the more antioxidants it contains. For example, foods like unsweetened cacao and pomegranates have some of the highest measures of antioxidants. (This “Mother of all Antioxidants” fights off a slew of free radicals.) Also, the color of your produce can tell you which class of antioxidant they contain. For example, orange veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin contain beta-carotene, while green vegetables like kale and spinach contain lutein.
Some studies have found that green vegetables specifically—including spinach, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables, can be particularly protective against free radicals, which may lower your risk of cancer.
The bottom line? When in doubt, go green. If you’re looking to add some antioxidants to your diet, picking up a dark green vegetable seems to be one of the easiest ways to do so. Keep in mind that whole foods are better processed by our bodies, meaning that avoiding processed foods is your best bet to absorb the most antioxidants from your meal.