Free radical damage has long been believed to be a risk factor of many of the chronic diseases that accompany aging—including heart disease. Antioxidants, however, gobble up as many free radicals as they can and deactivate them, preventing them from doing damage.
This can be seen in a 2011 study published in Stroke. Researchers looked at women who had not had a previous cardiovascular event. They found that, over the course of 11.5 years, there had been 1,322 stroke cases. They also learned that those women who ate the foods with the most antioxidants had a 17 percent lower risk for total stroke than those women who ate foods with the fewest antioxidants.
When the researchers looked at those women who had suffered from a previous cardiovascular event, they found that, over the course of 9.6 years, there had been 1,007 stroke cases. They discovered that while there was no significant difference in antioxidant consumption when it came to total stroke or cerebral infarction, those women who ate one to three times more antioxidant-rich foods had a significant (46 percent) lower risk for hemorrhagic stroke than those women who ate the fewest antioxidant-laden foods (57 percent).
Researchers concluded, “[Total antioxidant capacity] of the diet may be of importance for the prevention of total stroke among CVD-free women and hemorrhagic stroke among women with a CVD history.”
When it comes to getting your daily allowance of antioxidant-rich foods, start with fruits and vegetables. A great rule of thumb is to aim for five servings per day. Aim for one serving at breakfast and two at lunch and two at dinner. You can also use a high-quality, antioxidant-rich superfoods supplement to give yourself an extra boost.