Last Updated on June 26, 2023
You’ve probably heard that eating more fruits and veggies is good for you, and there’s a reason for that. These foods are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help keep your body healthy and strong. Antioxidants are super important because they help your immune system fight off harmful stuff and keep you feeling your best.
And the best part? Some fruits and vegetables have even more of these goodness-packed nutrients than others. So, let’s take a look at what antioxidants are, what they do, and the top foods that are loaded with them!
What Are Antioxidants and What Do Antioxidants Do?
An antioxidant is a compound, such as a vitamin, that helps to protect the cells in your body. The purpose of an antioxidant is that it is a healthy nutrient that safeguards the good cells from unstable oxidizing molecules, known as free radicals, that can form during your daily routine and metabolism.
What Are Good Antioxidants?
There are many antioxidants, but the three most well-known are vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. See below the highest antioxidant foods containing these nutrients and discover why they are so good for your health:
Vitamin C: Getting more vitamin C in your diet is an excellent idea as it’s one of the best antioxidants. Vitamin C helps to boost your immune system, promote memory function, and can even help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Vitamin C can be found in lots of fresh produce, including:
- Fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, plums, and kiwi
- Chili, yellow, and red bell peppers
- Berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- Herbs like parsley
- Kale and spinach
Beta-Carotene: The plant pigment beta-carotene gives many fruits and vegetables a vibrant color. It is an excellent source of vitamin A and a powerful antioxidant known to reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive conditions and help prevent breast cancer.
Antioxidant-rich foods high in beta-carotene include:
- Root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots
- Dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale
- Butternut squash
- Fruits like apricots and cantaloupe melon
Vitamin E: The fat-soluble compound vitamin E has excellent antioxidant properties and is vital for our blood vessel health, immunity, and skin. The best antioxidant foods containing vitamin E include:
- Nuts like almonds and peanuts
- Seeds including pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Oils like grapeseed, wheat germ, and rice bran
- Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale
Can I Take Antioxidant Supplements While Fasting?
Eating foods high in antioxidants can be a great way to boost the benefits of your intermittent fasting diet. However, some research suggests that taking antioxidant supplements during your fasting period may not be the best idea. That’s because of something called hormesis, which is basically when a little stress is good for your body.
Think about it like this: when you’re sick and you lose your appetite, your body naturally fasts to give your cells a chance to fix things up and help you recover faster. This is an example of hormesis in action. And taking antioxidant supplements during your fasting period might interfere with this natural process.
When you’re doing intermittent fasting, you’re essentially giving your body a controlled stress by not eating for a set amount of time, which can help kickstart some important cell reactions, like autophagy. But if you take antioxidant supplements during your fasting period, it might slow down those reactions and take away some of the benefits of your fasting routine.
The solution? It’s best to take vitamins and other antioxidant supplements when you’re actually eating, not when you’re fasting. That way, you can make the most of your intermittent fasting and all its potential health benefits!
Why Are Antioxidants Important?
Antioxidants are essential for your overall health and well-being. Consuming foods high in antioxidants helps boost your metabolism and fight potentially harmful free radicals that could damage your system. As we have seen, consuming foods with antioxidants brings many health benefits. The bottom line is, do your immune system a favor and pack more fruits and vegetables into your diet and in the meals following your fast, as your body will thank you for it!