Before discussing their role in maintaining good health, let’s first clarify what antioxidants are. “Antioxidant” is the collective name for the vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols that protect the body from harmful free radicals. Free radicals are produced when our body cells use oxygen. They are by-products that can cause us damage ala cancer, heart disease, diabetes.
Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers in that they prevent and repair free radical damage. The term anti-oxidant refers to the mechanism by which they help prevent disease. See, antioxidants block the process of oxidation (a damaging but normal process) by neutralizing free radicals.
There are many products that advertise their antioxidant content (antioxidant supplements, too) and while consuming those products probably won’t hurt, the most effective way to get more antioxidants is through your food. As usual, fruits and vegetables are key, five servings of it. Why can’t it ever be chocolate cupcakes?
The most commonly known antioxidants are foods with lots of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Selenium, and Phytochemicals.
You can also take antioxidant supplements but it’s best to get it through your diet.
Vitamin E foods: Nuts and seeds (walnuts, peanuts, almonds, seeds, olives, avocado, leafy greens)
Vitamin A Foods: carrots, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, collards, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe (bright colored fruits)
Vitamin C Foods: oranges, lime, grapefruit, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries
Selenium Foods: seafood, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, brown rice, whole wheat bread, brazil nuts
Phytochemicals: some currently under study for their ability to reduce disease See list below
|Allyl sulfides||Onions, garlic, leeks, chives|
|Carotenoids (e.g., lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin)||Tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, kale, spinach|
|Flavonoids (e.g., anthocyanins, resveratrol, quercitin, catechins)||Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, grapefruit, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries|
|Glutathione||Green leafy vegetables|
|Indoles||Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy|
|Isoflavones (e.g., genistein, daidzeins)||Legumes (peas, soybeans)|
|Isothiocyanates (e.g., sulforaphane)||Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy|
|Lignans||Seeds (flax seeds, sunflower seeds)|
|Monoterpenes||Citrus fruit peels, cherries, nuts|
|Phytic acid||Whole grains, legumes|
|Phenols, polyphenols, phenolic compounds (e.g., ellagic acid, ferulic acid, tannins)||Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, grapefruit, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, tea|