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8 Antioxidant-Packed Foods and Drinks You Need In Your Life

e could all use a health boost in our diets: registered dietitian and founder of Tracy Lockwood Nutrition, TRACY LOCKWOOD, is here to help.

Looking to improve your overall health with what you eat? Look for antioxidants, your body's main nutritional defense against disease and illnesses. Read on for eight food and drink choices that are nutrient-dense, delicious, and high in antioxidants to boot.

Dark Chocolate. There's good reason to reach for one more square of that chocolate bar: Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants thanks to its high content of cacao (think: the higher the cacao percentage the better). Cacao is rich in flavonoids; those with higher levels of flavonoids in their blood have been shown to have lower risk of heart disease, cancers and type 2 diabetes. Aim for a chocolate with 70 percent cacao or higher.

Blueberries. Blueberries are an amazing source of antioxidants, especially in the summer when they're fresh and readily available. Many berries have antioxidants, but blueberries lead the pack. They're rich in a different kind of antioxidant, proanthocyanidin, which boosts health in a variety of ways. Add some blueberries to Greek yogurt or put them in a smoothie for increased antioxidant consumption and a sweet treat!

Cinnamon. Cinnamon contains polyphenols, a form of antioxidant, which can help the body combat inflammation. Although many different spices contain these antioxidants, cinnamon outweighs most.

Red Wine. Give yourself a healthy pour: Red wine boasts resveratrol antioxidants, a compound that has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease. This antioxidant allows the body to increase levels of HDL (our good cholesterol) and protects us against cholesterol build-up that leads to heart disease.

Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain an impressive amount of vitamin A, which is great for our eyes and retinol activity. The root veggie is also overflowing with the antioxidant beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Be cautious of overcooking or burning sweet potatoes, as those cooking methods may strip away their nutrients.

Barley. With its high protein and antioxidant levels, barley is hard-working grain. It can be used in soups, salads or even as a side, adding more substance and flavor to each meal. The ancient grain has survived for centuries for good reason!

Walnuts. This nut does more than just help you get some brain power, it also offers a plethora of antioxidants, specifically phenols. Walnuts can be used as a topping for your oatmeal or yogurt, cooked into hearty dishes or even blended into a delicious nut butter — go nuts!

Broccoli. This über-healthy, disease-fighting cruciferous vegetable is high in antioxidants. Steam up a serving and you'll get vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.

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Article by Tracy Lockwood
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