Antioxidants: These foods contain a particularly large number!

Antioxidants are substances in plant foods that protect them from spoilage by preventing them from reacting with oxygen. That means they have an antioxidant effect. Antioxidants also keep predators away.

However, antioxidants are not only of great benefit to plants, they also have a positive effect on our health: As radical scavengers, they neutralize free radicals and thus protect our cells. Studies even indicate that antioxidants are said to have a cancer-protective effect.

Antioxidants can be divided into:

  • Vitamins: Vitamins A, C and E are effective radical scavengers.
  • Trace elements: manganese, selenium, magnesium and  zinc  also have a strong antioxidant effect.
  • Secondary plant substances: Colors and flavorings such as carotenoids, anthocyanins or  flavonoids  have an antioxidant effect.

In addition, a distinction is made between water-soluble (hydrophilic) and fat-soluble (lipophilic) antioxidants: carotenoids, for example, which give carrots their orange color, are fat-soluble. Anthocyanins, on the other hand, which are plant pigments responsible for the reddish and bluish coloring of  berries  and the like, are water-soluble.

The extent to which a food has an antioxidant effect, i.e. intercepts oxygen radicals, does not just depend on a single antioxidant, but on the interaction of all the ingredients in the food in question. Other factors such as type, storage and processing of the food also play a role here.

Our photo series shows which foods have a particularly high antioxidant capacity.

nuts

Nuts  have a very high content of vitamin E, which is one of the strongest antioxidants of all. When it comes to antioxidants, walnuts are far and away the number one in terms of antioxidants.

In order to benefit from the antioxidant effect of walnuts, it is best to integrate them into your daily diet, for example as a special ingredient in morning muesli, in salads or as an afternoon snack.

Coffee

The fact that  coffee also  contains a large amount of antioxidants comes as a surprise to most. Antioxidants in coffee include flavonoids, resveratrol and melanoidins. The antioxidant capacity of coffee depends on the degree of roasting of the coffee beans. Light-colored varieties have higher levels of antioxidants than dark-colored ones.

The antioxidants in coffee are partly responsible for the fact that moderate consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, among other things.

But be careful:  If you want to benefit optimally from the antioxidant properties of the coffee bean, you should note one point: the milk protein casein binds to antioxidants and thus makes them largely useless for the human body. It is therefore best to drink coffee black or with a plant-based milk alternative instead of cow’s milk.

Cocoa

The raw  cocoa bean  also has a large amount of antioxidants.

But be careful:  Cocoa is often used in dairy products. However, the usability of antioxidants decreases drastically when combined with milk protein, because the milk protein casein forms a chemical compound with antioxidants. Therefore, antioxidants in cocoa, if it is processed in milk chocolate, can hardly develop their effect.

Tip:  In order to benefit from the antioxidants in the cacao bean, it is therefore better to consume them at a time distance from dairy products. Or you rely on plant-based milk alternatives.

A good way to integrate cocoa beans into your diet is, for example, to add cocoa nibs to your morning muesli and enjoy it with a milk alternative made from soy,  oats  or almonds.

blueberries

The blueberry owes its dark blue color to its high content of polyphenols (anthocyanins and flavonoids), which makes the berry one of the frontrunners when it comes to antioxidants. Polyphenols are among the secondary plant substances and give the healthy berries not only their color but also an intense, aromatic  taste .

Depending on the type of cultivation, blueberries are in season in Germany from July to September. The dark blue berries are very low in calories and can be used in a variety of ways: whether as an afternoon snack, in a  smoothie  or muesli, in salads or desserts: blueberries can always be used to conjure up a cell-protecting sweetness on the plate. Blueberries are also very popular in summer as a baking ingredient in cakes, muffins and tarts.

But  be careful: If the berries are heated, a large part of the antioxidants that are not heat-stable are lost. Therefore, it is better not to bake the blueberries in cakes and co. in the oven, but rather cover the baked goods with the fresh berries after baking.

pomegranate

Pomegranate is rich in the tanning agent punicagalin and puninic acid, both of which have a strong antioxidant effect. The antioxidants in pomegranates are not only said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and vascular protection effects, but also to lower cholesterol levels.

A study with obese people was able to show that the intake of pomegranate extract has a positive effect on the  blood levels of  total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, among other things.

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables ever. Broccoli owes its positive properties primarily to the antioxidant sulforaphane (mustard oil), which is said to have an anti-cancer effect.

By the way, you can also eat broccoli raw, which has a big advantage. Because when heated, the vegetables lose a lot of their valuable ingredients.

Tip:  If you want to increase the antioxidant potential of broccoli, you can easily grow broccoli sprouts at home. Germination increases the concentration of sulforaphane many times over.

Instructions: Grow broccoli sprouts yourself

For the broccoli sprouts, place 1-2 tablespoons of broccoli seeds in a sprouting jar or other germinating device, fill the jar halfway with  tap water  , and let the seeds soak for about six hours. Then pour off the water. For the following days, the broccoli seeds are rinsed with water twice a day.

After about three days, the broccoli sprouts are ready to eat. They are suitable, for example, as a topping in salads or on  bread .

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