A diet high in antioxidants does more than just ward off cancer. It fights the free radicals responsible for arthritis and other joint diseases, lung problems like emphysema and bronchitis, and atherosclerosis, the leading cause of heart disease. Though you may think that antioxidant-rich foods are limited to expensive goji berries or exotic herbs, research is identifying some dirt-cheap sources of the disease-fighting, anti-inflammatory nutrients. And they cost a lot less than exotic superberries like goji or acai.
1. Black Rice
Researchers from Louisiana have found that black rice could be a very affordable source of good health. For literally pennies, you can feed your family a food that rivals blueberries in its levels of antioxidants. Like fruits, black rice is loaded with anthocyanins, which show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other ills. “Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants,” says Zhimin Xu, PhD, associate professor of food science at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge.
2. Sweet Potatoes
This root vegetable is high on the affordable antioxidant-rich food list, says Christina Economos, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston. While certainly not as sexy as a goji berry, sweet potatoes are cheap, and once cured, can be stored for months. So load up at the farmer’s market and enjoy them all winter!
Economos also recommends red delicious and Granny Smith apples, two types commonly grown in the U.S. Just be sure to eat the peel—it boosts antioxidant levels up to six times higher than the apples’ flesh! (Of course, it’s best to buy organic or, to save money, grow your own apple tree!)