The best antioxidant foods and benefits

1. What is an antioxidant?
2. What are free radicals?
3. Why are antioxidants important to our health and brain health?
4. What are the best antioxidant foods?
5. Summary
1. What is an antioxidant?
An antioxidant can be defined as a substance that significantly delays or inhibits oxidation ( It is essential that we get enough antioxidants in the foods within our diets, as they prevent free-radical damage and have many health benefits. Free radicals adversely change the structure of proteins, lipids and DNA which can lead to several diseases. 
2. What are free radicals?
For us to truly understand how antioxidants work and why they are important to our overall health and more specifically brain health we need to understand what free radicals are.
Free radicals can cause damage to our bodies and brains. There must be a balance between antioxidant and free radical levels within our bodies for cells and brain cells to function normally. If free radical levels become higher than antioxidant levels; normal physiological functions will be disrupted, causing oxidative stress and cell damage/death ( 
3. Why are antioxidants important to our health and brain health?
Oxidative stress is highly damaging to our bodies and it plays a major role in the development of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, aging, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease ( It is therefore essential for our overall health and more specifically our brain health that we obtain enough antioxidants from our diets and supplementation.
4. What are the best antioxidant foods?
Antioxidants can be gained from a Mediterranean diet recommended by the NHS and the department of health. This includes a diet rich in colourful fruits/vegetables, red wine in moderation, fish, and low in red meat ( Below is a list of healthy super foods from around the world that are high in antioxidants and which you can consider adding into your diet.
Blueberries and other berries
Berries including blueberry, blackberry and strawberry are a great source of natural antioxidants making them a perfect health food. Out of these berries a study showed that blueberries exhibited the most potent antioxidant properties, due to their particularly high levels of anothocyanidins and proanthocyanidins ( This makes them a particularly good option as a health food with many positive health benefits.
Red wine
The health benefits of red wine are due to the high number of polyphenols it contains namely resveratrol which is found in the skin of grapes. These compounds have potent antioxidant properties leading to red wines health benefits. Resveratrol is a compound that has many health benefits and has shown promise in Alzheimer’s disease and brain health (
). Resveratrol can be purchased in health food supplement form if red wine is not suitable to add into your diet. Stick to the government recommendations which is currently 14 units per week, spread out evenly over the week ( Too much alcohol of any kind is damaging to brain health, so should only be drank in moderation.
Dark chocolate
The good news for all the chocolate lovers out there is that cocoa contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods ( There is a catch and that is that it only applies to dark chocolate, which contains more of the raw ingredient and ultimately more antioxidant power. Dark chocolate also contains much less sugar and additives. On top of antioxidant properties, the polyphenols in the dark chocolate also exert anti-inflammatory activity ( 
Goji berries
Goji berries have been used for more than 2000 years in China and other Asian countries for their benefits as a traditional medicinal herb and health food. The berries have a mixture of active polysaccharides which have shown antioxidative properties (
Nuts such as Almonds and Walnuts are jam packed with nutrients including proanthocyanidins, flavonoids and vitamins including vitamin E. These compounds and vitamins exhibit potent antioxidant properties. Data from a large study showed that regular nut consumption is associated with many health benefits including a reduced risk of several conditions including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension (
5. Summary
The above list contains just a handful of foods that you can consider introducing into a healthy balanced diet to increase your antioxidant levels. Having a well-rounded Mediterranean diet, filled with colourful fruits and vegetables is a good place to start when looking to increase the levels of antioxidants in your diet. You can also look at supplementation where you can find health food supplements like blueberry extract, vitamin E and resveratrol which are all potent antioxidants.

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