A nutritious diet is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, a popular misconception that characterizes healthy foods as lacking flavor can be hard to overcome. Thankfully, the notion that healthy foods are bland doesn’t hold water, and various antioxidant-rich foods are a testament to just how flavorful nutritious foods can be.
Pecans, blueberries, strawberries, kale, and beans are just a handful of the many flavorful foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich foods benefit the body in myriad ways, and recognition of those benefits might compel more people to include these flavorful, nutritious foods in their diets.
Antioxidants and cancer risk
Stanford Medicine notes that researchers are currently investigating the role antioxidants might play in decreasing a person’s risk for cancer. Though it’s hard to draw a straight line between antioxidants and cancer risk, the National Cancer Institute notes that the antioxidant vitamin C may protect against cancers of the rectum, pancreas, cervix, breast, and lung. In addition, the American Cancer Society reports that the antioxidant beta carotene, which is found in orange, yellow and green leafy fruits and vegetables, may prevent cancer by enhancing white blood cells that are responsible for blocking harmful free radicals.
Antioxidants and improved vision
The American Optometric Association reports that adding antioxidants to a diet can help people improve their vision. The AOA notes that various studies have shown that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk for chronic eye diseases. Such studies found that individuals who got the most lutein and zeaxanthin had a much lower risk for developing new cataracts. In addition, the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E, which can be found in nuts and sweet potatoes, among other foods, can protect cells in the eyes from free radicals that can cause the breakdown of healthy tissue.
Antioxidants and heart health
There’s much debate surrounding a potential link between antioxidants and a lower risk for heart disease. Much of that debate has to do with antioxidant supplements, which tend to deliver higher concentrations of antioxidants than natural sources like fruits and vegetables. Individuals who want to try antioxidant supplements in an effort to improve heart health should discuss that option with their physicians before making any changes to their routines, as this approach may not be best for everyone. That said, numerous studies have found that eating a diet that features a lot of antioxidant-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, can lower risk for heart disease.
Antioxidants can be a powerful ally as people strive to be as healthy as possible. And the many flavorful antioxidant-rich foods can quell any misconceptions that a healthy diet must be a bland diet.