All About Antioxidants

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)

References

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

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6 thoughts on “All About Antioxidants

  1. Nicely written, Becky! Very informative with lots of great references for the reader to learn more information. I know I’ve been stuck on how to define antioxidants. You did it very well!

    Thank you very much!
    Professor Beth

    • Thank you for your reply.

      Before researching for this blog post, I was stuck like you. I knew that antioxidants were good for me since they were found in certain fruits and vegetables; but did not exactly understand the science behind it. It was also very interesting to learn how many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans offered antioxidants.

  2. Interesting! I guess I have never been drawing to all the hype on antioxidants, but I found this really enlightening. I didn’t know that they helped protect your body from chronic diseased. After looking at all the foods that have antioxidants, it made me happy to know that I eat a little of each of them each day!

  3. This was such an interesting post. All this time I knew antioxidants were good for you, but I really thought they were mainly in berries. This concept seems to be pushed through the food marketing industry. They tend to use blueberries as a picture for an antioxidant-rich food. The thing I am curious about is if they have even found any information on ingesting too many antioxidants, or if this is an impossibility. Something that particularly sparked my interest in reading through the list of healthy items here is that it basically looks like my 10-month old nephew’s daily menu. It is interesting that we choose to feed our infants such a healthy diet, but then we so easily forget how to eat that way ourselves. Once we learn the joys of junk food, it is difficult to go back! Thanks for the great post about antioxidants!

    • I did not find any articles about ingesting too many antioxidant, but I did find an thought-provoking article from Harvard’s School of Public Health.

      Harvard’s School of Public Health studied the potential hazards of antioxidants. Interestingly, they found that antioxidant supplements could in fact interfere with health. They saw an increase in lung cancer of smokers who were exposed to an antioxidant supplement compared to a placebo. Again, this was an antioxidant supplement, not antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables. They concluded that “eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules- provide protection against many of these sources of aging.” I found this article fascinating, because many times the public seems to rather take a short cut, like taking a supplement, instead of what they should be doing (like eating healthy choices).

      Harvard School of Public Health. (2013). Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/#the%20bottom%20line%20on%20antioxidants

  4. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

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