Antioxidants have been in the public eye since the 1990s, and still make headlines today. You can oftentimes see foods advertising “with antioxidant” or “strong heart antioxidant cereal.” So what’s the buzz about antioxidants?
Antioxidants are a group of foods that prevent damage to the body against free radicals. They do this by giving electrons to the free radicals. If antioxidants did not give electrons to these free radicals, the free radicals would take electrons from nearby body cells. Stealing from the body’s cell would kill the cell or change the DNA in that cell. When the body’s cells are weakened or damaged, the body is that more susceptible to chronic conditions, such as certain cancers and heart disease.
Harvard’s School of Public Health concludes that consuming whole fruits, vegetables, and grains (not antioxidant supplements) can provide protection against certain chronic diseases.
Antioxidants can be found naturally in foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. The three major sources of antioxidants come from vitamins Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Vitamins are not the only source of antioxidants; minerals (Zinc and Selenium) and other super food are also rich in antioxidants.
- Beta-Carotene: Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, sweet potato, russet potato, carrots, green peppers, kale, beets, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and more
- Vitamin C: All berries, papaya, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, oranges, snow peas, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, and more
- Vitamin E: chard, nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and more
- Zinc: beans, nuts, seafood, oysters, whole grains, and more
- Selenium: Nuts, certain breads, grains, tuna, and other meats
- Other Super Food: apples, prunes, raisins, pears, plumes, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant, and beans
*For more food rich in antioxidants visit WedMD (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health)
Eat Right. (2013). Antioxidants. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6792
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013). Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/#the%20bottom%20line%20on%20antioxidants
Kellogg’s. (2013). Kellogg’s Smart Start Antioxidants cereal. Retrieved from http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/kelloggs-smart-start-strong-heart-antioxidants-cereal.html
Mayo Clinic. (2011, May 4). Slide Show: Add Antioxidants to your Diet. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antioxidants/MY01593
WedMD. (2012, July 2). Antioxidants and Your Immune System: Super Food for Optimal Health. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health