I was so inspired by a video I saw the other day that I had to jump onto my laptop and share my excitement with all of you!
I’m always learning from Dr. Michael Greger, and he recently featured a video on his website explaining that all you have to do is add a few spices to your morning oatmeal and, voila—you can drastically increase your antioxidant intake!
It turns out that herbs and spices can have ten times the antioxidant power of nuts and seeds. This is especially true with spices like cinnamon, and even more so, cloves.
I’m sharing this knowledge (along with some other important details about these wonderful natural protectors) and the top foods to eat so that you can learn how to get the best bang for your antioxidant buck.
It’s so important to infuse our bodies with these amazing substances every time we eat. They protect our cells from all the sinister toxins that surround us—from pollution and pesticides, to pharmaceuticals, second hand smoke, and more!
So What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are your bodies’ superheroes! They counteract the effects of food and stress on the body.
In simple terms, an antioxidant is a chemical compound that protects cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced when the body breaks down oxygen, digests unhealthy foods, or is exposed to pollutants such as tobacco smoke or radiation.
Free radicals do damage to cells and DNA and may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
Some free radicals are a totally normal part of the way your body works—but when there are too many (a condition which doctors call “oxidative stress”), you lose the ability to neutralize them and they increase your risk of illness, disease, and premature aging.
(For example, brown spots on the skin are due to oxidation.)
While some free radicals are natural, we’re exposed to WAY more than our bodies can handle due to unhealthy processed foods, alcohol, pollution, UV rays, pesticides, cigarette smoke, mental stress, and a whole host of other problematic factors we face in our modern world.
This is why antioxidants are so important. They serve as superheroes in the fight against oxidative stress, and they basically deliver cellular super-powers!
There are hundreds of substances that are considered antioxidants (or phytonutrients) including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, polyphenols, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, selenium, manganese, and more.
The problem is that most people don’t get even the basic amount of antioxidants they need, much less enough to combat all the extra oxidative stress their poor bodies are battling.
Foods With the Most Antioxidants
When it comes to antioxidants, it’s all about eating plant food and the gorgeous array of colors found in fruits and vegetables, beans, and legumes.
And guess what other foods have huge antioxidant power? Spices and herbs! Even more than nuts and seeds, which offer some great antioxidant power, as well.
On average, plant foods have a whopping sixty-four times more antioxidants than meat, fish, eggs, or dairy.
Just sprinkle some of the best herbs and spices on top of the healthy foods you’re already eating, and you supercharge your diet. A pinch here, a pinch there, and you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs to fight aging of your cells, keeping you vibrant and well.
Here is a list of the highest antioxidant foods you’ll want to start adding to your diet ASAP:
You might just think about cloves in association with the holiday season, but this fragrant spice is great for adding a pumpkin-pie-esque flavor, any time of year. Yum!
This spice, which is like a milder version of oregano, is known as an antioxidant powerhouse. Just a little bit on top of your whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce, and you’ll increase flavor and give your body an immunity-boost.
This famous spice is as good for you as it is delicious! There are a million ways to use cinnamon:,sprinkle it on oatmeal, add it to smoothies, or put a pinch on your sweet potato.
Great for savory dishes, particularly Italian! Oregano has a strong, delightful flavor, and is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods.
This delicious herb makes a wonderful tea! Steep some leaves with hot water to boost your protection against toxins—it’s that easy! It’s also simple to grow in the garden.
Beans & Legumes
Red beans pack the most powerful antioxidant-punch, followed by red kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. Beans are also full of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation!
Among the most antioxidant-rich of all the nuts. Add a few pecans to a dish for a major boost in nutrients (only a few, though—they are high in fat).
Walnuts also rank right up there in antioxidant capacity. Have a few as a snack or sprinkle a few on a colorful salad—just don’t go overboard, an ounce will do the trick.
This popular veggie offers the world’s cheapest source of antioxidants per ounce, so add it to your salad and stir fry for a cheap and easy nutrient-boost!
Purple Grapes (and Raisins)
Foods that are dark in color (like purple!) tend to be packed with good-for-you phytochemicals, offering an even more nutritious option.
These tasty little berries are famously powerful when it comes to staying healthy and protecting against disease.
Blackberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries
While blueberries have the most power, all berries are among the highest antioxidant foods. Stock up in the summer season when they’re fresh and dripping with nutrients! In the winter, buy frozen berries and incorporate them into smoothies and breakfast bowls, or on top of oatmeal.
Dark Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, and collard greens have become super-popular for a reason. These veggies are loaded with nutrients, as are other leafy greens like collards, bok choy, and spinach.
These dark red delights are also full of nutrients and easy to add to your diet in a whole variety of ways. Again, when it comes to fruits and veggies, darker colors generally mean more antioxidants! So, keep that in mind when browsing your grocery store or farmer’s market.
With naturally high levels of antioxidant compounds, the potato is one of the best nutrient-dense vegetables out there. And be sure to eat the skin! In some cases, the skins have as much as ten to twelve times the amount of antioxidants as the flesh. Red-skinned potatoes are particularly powerful.
A Day’s Worth of Antioxidants
If you’re wondering what an ideal day’s worth of antioxidants looks like, I’m here to help!
Instead of worrying about exact amounts, just focus on incorporating the highest antioxidant foods (listed here) into your diet as often as possible.
If you’re eating the rainbow regularly, you’ll definitely get the antioxidants you need. That’s why I have many of these foods planted in the Garden of Eydie. There is nothing like being able to walk outside and pick fresh and delicious greens, kumquats, broccoli, and more!
Here’s a colorful, tasty, and super-simple day-long menu that will give you plenty of antioxidant power:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon and cloves, plus a bowl of fruit—berries or melons, you name it, it’s all good
Lunch: A beautiful bowl filled with red cabbage; mixed greens (kale, spinach and arugula); cherry tomatoes, mango, celery, and cucumber; ½ cup of beans or legumes, some sprouts, and a few sprinklings of nuts or seeds. Squeeze lime juice and orange juice on top and savor the goodness.
Snack: A red apple + a date + celery stick
Dinner: A big bowl of lentil soup, salad, a baked yam, and fruit for dessert. Try one of my favorites: Spiced Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard.
Are You Eating the Highest Antioxidant Foods?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably not getting nearly enough antioxidants right now. But it’s an easy fix!
Just follow the instructions above, start adding these herbs, spices, and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to your diet and your body (and cells) will thank you.
No rusting from the inside out due to oxidation!
So have some fun with delicious foods, filled with antioxidants
As you know, they’re found in all the plants
You’ll feel very good, since there’s no more rust
This advice we’re giving—you can certainly trust
Here’s to your health, from the inside out
Have any questions? Give us a shout!
With love, health and happiness,
Bon appetit with your antioxidants!