Antioxidants: Your Body’s Allies

Author: Shannon Miller

Stir fry with broccoli

We’ve all heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”  The foods we consume affect our health and well-being.

Just like what we put into our bodies is important, what is found inside the foods we eat is always important.

Antioxidants help to protect the healthy cells in our bodies from substances known as free radicals.  Free radicals are produced by everyday functions like breathing and physical activity, as well as by lifestyle practices like smoking.

3 types of antioxidants and which foods you can find them in:

  • Carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene , lycopene, and lutein.  Beta-carotene may be helpful in battling prostate cancer; lycopene for battling cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum; and lutein may decrease the likelihood of macular degeneration. Where can you find these handy carotenoids? In your favorite vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, spinach, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and…who could forget…broccoli!
  • Don’t forget about your vitamins! Vitamin E can help prevent cell damage which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and cataracts.  If you like what Vitamin E has to offer, you can find it in vegetable oils, salad dressings, margarine, wheat germ, whole-grain products, seeds, nuts, and peanut butter.
  • Vitamin C…not just a former pop star! Some of the benefits of Vitamin C include:  helping to produce collagen which holds bones and muscles together; keeping capillary walls and bloods vessels firm so our bodies don’t bruise easily; and aiding in the absorption of iron and folate.  Get your fill of Vitamin C in foods like oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and potatoes.

Keep antioxidants on your side by eating foods, like the ones listed above, that have plenty of antioxidants to offer!

*Information above adapted from the American Dietetic Association website

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