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Slide show: Add antioxidants to your diet

Slide show: Add antioxidants to your diet

Antioxidants are abundant in vegetables and fruits and are also found in whole-grain cereals, legumes and nuts.

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and carotenoids may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Other naturally occurring antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. Plant-based foods are the best sources. These include fruits, vegetables and their juices, whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and even chocolate.

As a bonus, most foods high in antioxidants are high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and good sources of vitamins and minerals. So enjoy the variety.

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are among the top fruit sources of antioxidants.

Pears and many apple varieties (with peel) are good sources for antioxidants. So are other fruits, such as grapes and most citrus fruits. Eat more stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums and prunes) and tropical fruits (banana, kiwi, mango, papaya and pineapple). Even pomegranate and olives contribute.

Artichokes, okra, kale and bell peppers top the list of vegetables high in antioxidants. Other options include asparagus, broccoli, red cabbage and tomatoes.

Sweet potatoes and red and russet potatoes — with the skin on — are good sources of antioxidants too.

Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content. Not crazy about nuts? Try sunflower, sesame or ground flaxseed in recipes. Legumes — such as kidney beans, edamame and lentils — also pack an antioxidant punch.

Toast your health with antioxidant-rich fruit juices, such as pomegranate juice. Red wine in moderation also has antioxidants. Even tea and coffee provide antioxidants. And while you''re celebrating, enjoy a nibble of dark chocolate for another antioxidant boost.

Remember, when it comes to adding antioxidants to your diet, no one food or food group should be your sole focus. Instead, be sure to incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes into your diet.


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