Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body.
Benefits of Antioxidants
When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals.
Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer etc are all contributed by oxidative damage. Indeed, a recent study conducted by researchers from London found that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.
Most Commonly Known Antioxidants
• Vitamin A and Carotenoids: Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots (bright-colored fruits and vegetables!)
• Vitamin C: Citrus fruits like oranges and lime etc, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
• Vitamin E: Nuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil • Selenium:Fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
Other Common Antioxidants
Some common phytochemicals: Flavonoids / polyphenols soy, red wine, purple grapes or Concord grapes, pomegranate, cranberries, tea
• Lycopene:Tomato and tomato products pink grapefruit watermelon
• Lutein: dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels sprout and spinach
• Lignan: flax seed, oatmeal barley, rye
• Vitamin-like Antioxidants: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Glutathione
• Antioxidant enzymes made by the body: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase glutathione, peroxidase