Glutathione is considered the body’s most important antioxidant because it’s found within the cells and helps boost activities of other antioxidants or vitamins. Glutathione is a peptide consisting of three key amino acids that plays several vital roles in the body, including helping with protein use, creation of enzymes, detoxification, digestion of fats and destruction of cancer cells.
Sounds like a lot of work? It certainly is more work than a meal-in-a-box meal, but so worth it! We haven’t had to take any of the kids to the doctor in years, all but one have never had antibiotics and they are happily active and fit naturally. My hope as they grow is to nurture their own healthy eating habits and develop a lifelong foundation for healthy eating.
There is something called a "phagocytic index" which tells you how rapidly a particular macrophage or lymphocyte can gobble up a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell. It was in the 1970's that Linus Pauling realized that white blood cells need a high dose of vitamin C and that is when he came up with his theory that you need high doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold.
If you eat a piece of fruit, for example, you’re not only consuming sugar (in the form of fructose), but also fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. All of these things help feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and help your body metabolize the sugar found in the fruit. Instead of craving more and more sugar, you’ll stay satiated for a longer period without the massive blood sugar spikes from consuming a treat with a bunch of refined sugar, she says.
It’s important to maintain the balance between antioxidants and oxidants in the body for good health. However, the free radicals or oxidants usually outnumber the antioxidants naturally produced in the body. Therefore, it is important to have a continuous supply of antioxidants from an external source to maintain this balance. Your diet is this external source and it must be packed with good quality antioxidants. This, in turn, provides other benefits like slowing down the signs of ageing, making your skin look youthful and lowering the risk of heart disease. A diet rich in antioxidants is also known to keep your brain active and your gut healthy. Needless to say, all these factors help in improving the quality and length of your life.Here are seven antioxidant rich foods that you must eat regularly and add to your daily diet if you haven’t already:
Your dark chocolate of choice should also be made from cocoa butter, not palm and/or coconut oils. Also look out for any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. Now that huge commercial chocolate makers are responding to the love of dark chocolate and making their own versions, you have to be careful. A label that reads “dark chocolate” doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. The healthiest or best dark chocolate is made from cacao or cocoa that’s organic, minimally processed and definitely not dutched.
Over the last few hundred years, the average intake of salt has actually declined. In fact, we now eat one-tenth the amount of salt that we used to consume back in the 1600s in Europe. In those days, we didn't have refrigerators to preserve our food, so everything was packed with salt. During this time of gorging on salt, there wasn’t an obesity or diabetes or hypertension crisis. People back then ate real whole foods and consumed a lot of salt, but they also consumed very little sugar.
The cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. It’s true that stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means it doesn’t raise it or lower it. The palmitic acid in dark chocolate can increase cholesterol levels, but thankfully it only makes up about a small portion of the fat in dark chocolate — plus dark chocolate has a lot of great plant nutrients that make up for palmitic acid.

But dark chocolate’s superfood status is likely a bit overblown, says Alan Aragon, M.S., Men’s Health nutrition advisor. “Dark chocolate just happens to have beneficial compounds that favorably influence various health parameters when consumed judiciously.” In this case, judiciously means this: consume in moderation. Since chocolate is energy-dense (read: it’s got 150 to 170 calories per ounce), scarf it down indiscriminately and you’ll easily wind up taking down excess calories and weighing down the scale, he notes.
Along with antioxidant foods, certain herbs, spices and essential oils derived from nutrient-dense plants are extremely high in healing antioxidant compounds. Here is another list of the herbs you can try adding to your diet for increased protection against disease. Many of these herbs/spices are also available in concentrated essential oil form. Look for 100 percent pure (therapeutic grade) oils, which are highest in antioxidants.
Have a big meeting, test or dinner with the in-laws? Eating dark chocolate can give your brain a short-term boost—increasing your alertness—for two to three hours, a University of Nottingham study found. Flavanols, one of dark chocolate’s key components, dilates blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and blood to reach key areas of the brain, which can help you soldier against fatigue and the effects of aging. The study participants consumed a flavanol-rich cocoa drink, but you can eat dark chocolate by itself—or any foods high in flavanols like red wine, green tea and blueberries. 
As we mentioned earlier, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidant compounds that help fight the DNA damage that causes aging symptoms like wrinkles, graying hair, and disease. In fact, research shows that just a single serving of cacao contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods and more antioxidants than many Americans get on average per day (5).
The results demonstrate that there are several thousand-fold differences in antioxidant content of foods. Spices, herbs and supplements include the most antioxidant rich products in our study, some exceptionally high. Berries, fruits, nuts, chocolate, vegetables and products thereof constitute common foods and beverages with high antioxidant values.
Dark chocolate is also called semisweet chocolate while extra dark chocolate is often considered the same as bittersweet, although the ratio of cocoa butter to solids may vary between the varieties. (14) According to the FDA, semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate is a sweet chocolate that contains no less than 35 percent (by weight) of pure cocoa. (15) Semisweet and bittersweet are both commonly used in baking, and although the FDA defines them in the same way, bittersweet chocolate typically has a deeper flavor and less sweetness than semisweet chocolate. (16) Unsweetened or baker’s chocolate is usually almost 100 percent cocoa with no sweetness whatsoever.

And as it turns out, that kind of emotional eating might not be such a bad thing. You know what kind of havoc stress and its sneaky sidekick cortisol can wreak on your body. Swiss scientists (who else?) found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated. After a breakup, break out a dark chocolate bar rather than a pint of ice cream.


If you eat a piece of fruit, for example, you’re not only consuming sugar (in the form of fructose), but also fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. All of these things help feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and help your body metabolize the sugar found in the fruit. Instead of craving more and more sugar, you’ll stay satiated for a longer period without the massive blood sugar spikes from consuming a treat with a bunch of refined sugar, she says.
Back when food was way scarcer, our ancient ancestors needed to take every advantage they had to consume high calorie foods. So the human brain evolved to perceive sugar—and fat—as very rewarding, says Schwartz. Today, our brains are still wired for feast or famine, even though you can buy thousands of calories of food for a couple bucks at the local convenience store.  
As demonstrated in the present study, the variation in the antioxidant values of otherwise comparable products is large. Like the content of any food component, antioxidant values will differ for a wide array of reasons, such as growing conditions, seasonal changes and genetically different cultivars [46,58], storage conditions [59-61] and differences in manufacturing procedures and processing [62-64]. Differences in unprocessed and processed plant food samples are also seen in our study where processed berry products like jam and syrup have approximately half the antioxidant capacity of fresh berries. On the other hand, processing may also enhance a foods potential as a good antioxidant source by increasing the amount of antioxidants released from the food matrix which otherwise would be less or not at all available for absorption [65]. Processing of tomato is one such example where lycopene from heat-processed tomato sauce is more bioavailable than unprocessed tomato [66]. The large variations in antioxidant capacity observed in the present study emphasize the importance of using a comprehensive antioxidant database combined with a detailed system for food registration in clinical and epidemiological studies.
Some nutrients are destroyed in the process of making chocolate available for the general market. Make sure the chocolate you buy is within the healthy range. Check the label: chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cocoa content is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Often called bittersweet, it has minimal sugar. The best way to get all the nutrients from chocolate is simply to use unsweetened cocoa nibs. The bitter, crunchy, seed-like snack isn't the best-tasting treat, but its nutritional profile makes it worthwhile.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition featured a study that found those with high levels of vitamin C in their blood had almost a 50 percent decreased risk of stroke. Countless studies also have found that people who consume highly plant-based diets — loaded with things like fresh veggies, herbs, spices and fruit — have a better chance of living longer and healthier lives with less heart disease. (6)
It’s not exactly agreed upon who first “discovered” antioxidants. Antioxidants have been dated in medical literature to the early 19th and 20th centuries, but researchers and health experts have been discussing them for much longer. Each antioxidant has its own unique history of discovery. Some, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, were first researched by doctors, such as Henry A. Mattill during the 1920s–1950s, used to explain why animals fed whole foods lived longer and remained healthier. (2)

The research included information that animal studies have found the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain associated with memory, may be affected by refined sugar. Two studies were conducted in the published report. In the first study, participants that self-reported eating a high-sugar diet had poorer performance on hippocampal related memory tasks. In the second study, the results were replicated. The second study also revealed that the effect of high sugar consumption on memory appears to be directly related to the hippocampal region and no other areas which may also affect memory, such as the prefrontal cortex.
Herbert's blood sugar was measured on seven different days before and during the challenge. Her average before was 6.0 and while consuming zero sugar it was 5.4. Catsicas says, "It seems cutting sugar out of the diet significantly improves average blood glucose levels. Maintaining lower blood glucose levels is beneficial as it places less stress on the beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin.
Why should I care about antioxidants? The short answers is because healthy pros say so; the longer one is because the higher antioxidant foods and products we welcome into our lives, the more able our bodies are able to stop or delay the damaging of cells. Oxidants — the opposite of anitoxidants –are free radicals naturally produced by our bodies to help fight off viruses and other health-inhibiting invaders. They also occur in our environment via air pollution, smoke, alcohol etc. which can cause an unhealthy buildup in our systems. Oxidant overload can lead to accelerated aging, weakened immunity, and cellular damage linked to disease among other major health hurdles down the line. On the logical flip-side, inviting more antioxidants into our bodies directly combats these adverse effects.
Such observational studies don't prove that chocolate is responsible for these benefits. However, the consistent and repeated positive results in studies done on cocoa indicate that chocolate does have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Chocolate has had such a profound effect on so many systems in the human body some authorities are unsure whether to call it a food or a drug.
There’s no doubt that dark chocolate is trending in today’s marketplace, and sales don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Over the last few years, the chocolate industry has seen a move to premium and certified organic dark chocolate, specifically products that are single-origin; have high cacao content’ use natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia, yacon or coconut sugar; as well as increased sustainable sourcing and origin labeling. As science shows more and more benefits of dark chocolate, its popularity will only continue to grow.
Frequent exposure to high glucose levels diminishes mental capacity, as higher HbA1c levels have been associated with a greater degree of brain shrinkage. Even in those without diabetes, higher sugar consumption is associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function. These effects are thought to be due to a combination of hyperglycemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and elevated cholesterol.

Cherries have been touted as the new wonder fruit, and based on their antioxidant content we can see why! Cherries are rich in the flavonoids, isoqueritrin and queritrin, which act as antioxidants and work to eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress, therefore slowing down the aging process. Cherries are also loaded with Queritrin, a flavonoid believed to be one of the most potent anticancer agents.
Studies show that the darker the chocolate, the better. Eat only less-processed chocolate that contains at least 65 percent cacao, recommends Joy DuBost, PhD, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. Not only does dark chocolate have a higher concentration of antioxidants than milk chocolate, but milk chocolate is also higher in added sugar and unhealthy fats. Still, the daily dose of antioxidants in dark chocolate doesn’t give you license to indulge in a dessert free-for-all — dark chocolate is still loaded with fat and calories — so eat a max of 1 to 2 ounces a day. If you do, research says you’ll reap these 9 benefits.
As if the other benefits weren’t enough, a Harvard University study found that one or two doses of dark chocolate per week could even help you live longer. In the study, researchers compared men who ate chocolate with those who didn’t and found that the former group lived one year longer. More research is still being conducted to determine the exact role chocolate plays in longevity.
Reduces stress –If you are one of those chocolate lovers, you know that feeling of happiness and guilt when you put in your mouth that piece of flavorful candy. Now imagine that same feeling but without the guilt! You can achieve that with dark chocolate because now you know that it is better for your health and has much more benefits than regular or milk chocolate. There has been studies were people that ate dark chocolate showed a decreased amount of stress hormone levels.
Sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and sweetened dairy are the main sources of added sugar. But even savory foods, like breads, tomato sauce, and protein bars, can have sugar, making it all too easy to end up with a surplus of the sweet stuff. To complicate it further, added sugars can be hard to spot on nutrition labels since they can be listed under a number of names, such as corn syrup, agave nectar, palm sugar, cane juice, or sucrose. (See more names for sugar on the graphic below.)
The new study is more complete and accurate (thanks to updated technology) than previous USDA antioxidant data and includes more foods than the previous study, the researchers say. They analyzed antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods, including fruits and vegetables. In addition, the new study includes data on spices and nuts for the first time.
Many of us take the bait at the word “antioxidant,” buying health and beauty products without knowing exactly how these mysterious compounds actually benefit us. Let's clear that up: “Antioxidants act like little bodyguards to protect our cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and disease,” explains Cynthia Sass, Health’s contributing nutrition editor. They neutralize harmful free radicals, molecules that play a role in cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and more. 

Dark chocolate makes my list of 15 brain foods to boost focus and memory for good reason. Previous research showed that “acute as well as chronic ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to cerebral gray matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols might be beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, including dementia and stroke.”

Sugar does more to your brain that just foster an addiction to the sweet ingredient. Eating large amounts of sugar can affect the brain’s pathways, potentially decreasing the ability to store new information. Sugar can interfere with communication between nerve cells, potentially altering your mood, memory and processing of information. It can feel as if you are in a fog

The samples were classified into 24 different categories covering products from the plant kingdom, products from the animal kingdom and mixed food products. Information about sample processing (raw, cooked, dried etc), if any, was included, along with all sample specifications, i.e. product name, brand name, where the product/sample was procured and country of origin. The product information in the database was collected from the packing of the product, from supplier or purchaser. When this information was not available or the samples were handpicked, only country of origin is presented. Each sample is assigned to only one category. The classification was done according to information from the supplier or purchaser, or according to common traditional use of the food. Some foods may therefore be categorized otherwise in other food cultures. For products in the categories "Herbal/traditional plant medicine" and "Vitamin and dietary Supplements" some products may rightfully be classified as both an herbal medicine and a supplement, but are still assigned to only one category. All berries, fruits, and vegetables were fresh samples unless otherwise noted in the database. The Antioxidant Food Table contains 3139 samples. About 1300 of these samples have been published before [16,17,28] but for comparison and completeness we have included them in the present publication. All individual samples previously published are identified by a comment in the Antioxidant Food Table. The categories and products in the database are presented in alphabetic order. Information about brand names and product trademarks does not imply endorsement by the authors, and are reported as descriptive information for research applications only. The Antioxidant Food Table will in the future be available online as a searchable database. In addition to the products mentioned in this paper, other foods will in the future be analyzed and incorporated into the online version, which will be posted on the University of Oslo's web site.
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