10 Vegetables That Contain The Highest Amounts of Antioxidants
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day will have a positive effect on your body. Vegetables in particular offer a number of benefits which include antioxidants which help limit the number of free radicals that form in the body.
But what are free radicals, what do they do, and which vegetables offer the highest amount of antioxidants to combat them?
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are formed in the body naturally through the process of diet, exercise, exposure to sunlight, air pollutants, alcohol, smoking, or the consumption of drugs. Of the many types of free radicals that form in the body, the most common occurs through aerobic means or by oxidation. When you breath, the oxygen that is taken in helps to form the free radicals in your body.
Basically, a free radical is an unstable atom that forms in an environment where it lacks the proper electrons, so it tries to take electrons from stable atoms which in turn causes them to become unstable.
The result is that in the body a free radical causes cells to age prematurely because it damages them by taking the electrons away from the atoms. This is unlike the natural aging process which is determined by genetics, free radicals cause the cells to age more rapidly than they should.
How Free Radicals Can Affect Your Health
The human body has a number of molecules that are very susceptible to attacks by free radicals and those based on oxygen have the capacity to create the necessary conditions for inflammation of the skin, damage to the hair and nails, and even set the stage for the formation of certain forms of cancer.
The visible effects of free radicals generally start with the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails. Your skin is less supple and the hair and nails more brittle in nature. As the damage caused by free radicals progresses, it essentially ages the body overall.
Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals by not allowing them to form. In essence, they short circuit the oxidation process which in turn does not allow free radicals to form. The lack of free radicals in the body means that cells can heal the damage they have received so that the skin becomes suppler and the nails and hair are less brittle.
However, the main benefit is that the body is now less susceptible to the formation of certain cancers which otherwise would begin their life in the cells damaged by free radicals.
In order to reduce the amount of free radicals in the body, antioxidants must be consumed on a regular basis and vegetables are an excellent source.
10 Vegetables With The Highest Levels of Antioxidants
There are a number of vegetables that contain antioxidants, but ten stand out for the amount that they offer for the body.
For ages children have been told to eat their broccoli and for good reason. There are a number of benefits to broccoli of which the antioxidant amount is one of the best. In addition, broccoli contains a number of vitamins and minerals for good overall health.
In fact, all orange vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and carrots help lead the way. Carrots are filled with Vitamin A which is very important to the body. A serving of carrots can go a long way towards reducing the amount of free radicals in the body.
Particularly yellow corn offers plenty of antioxidants for the body. You can eat corn on the cob or have it served as a side dish, but corn is loaded with antioxidants which makes it perfect for daily consumption.
Cucumbers are very popular in salads or served as a side dish. In addition, they offer plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for the body. A single serving of cucumbers can provide you with the antioxidants needed to help reduce the free radicals in your body.
This popular vegetable offers a very high amount of antioxidants which comes in the form of phenolic compound and chlorogenic acid. The plant itself produces a number of antioxidants as a natural reaction to the damaging effects of the sun. In addition, eggplant also lowers the LDL or “bad” cholesterol and protects against infection.
Leeks may not be as well-known as many other vegetables, but they offer plenty of antioxidants. Leeks also contain other attributes that make them the perfect alternative if you ever get tired of spinach, broccoli, or lettuce. You can use leeks in a variety of recipes and they offer plenty of antioxidants to help your body fight off premature aging.
The many varieties of lettuce that is most often used in salads is an excellent source of antioxidants. Lettuce contains quercetin and lutein which are powerful antioxidants that help fight off the free radicals forming in the body.
Kale is a type of cabbage that is a green leafy vegetable which has garnered a lot of press in recent years for its many attributes. One of them is the amount of antioxidants present which makes it the perfect food to counter the effects of free radicals.
Kale has a high amount of carotenoids and flavonoids which greatly reduce the amount of free radicals in the body as well as essential fatty acids and Vitamin K.
A certain cartoon character garnered major fame by eating spinach. So, it’s not surprising that spinach is loaded with antioxidants. In addition, spinach offers a number of other benefits as well, plus it has virtually no calories so you can load up on this vegetable and not have to worry about gaining excess weight.
10: Sweet Potatoes
In recent years, sweet potatoes have managed to become quite the popular superfood. They offer a considerable amount of antioxidants and contain plenty of Vitamins B6 and C along with potassium and fiber. Sweet potato fries are growing in popularity thanks to their nutritional value.
Along with these ten vegetables are a number of other fruits, nuts, and legumes that offer plenty of antioxidants for your body.