Antioxidants: the good health helpers

February 23, 2018 by Julie Davis, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Antioxidants—it's a hot nutrition buzzword, but do you know what they really are?

Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals are formed naturally in the body and actually play an important role in many everyday processes, such as exercise and metabolism. But at high concentrations, they can be hazardous to your health, with the potential to cause cell damage that could lead to cancer.

Your body makes some needed antioxidants to battle , and you can get others through a , notably from richly colored fruits and vegetables.

Well-known dietary antioxidants and their sources include:

  • Beta-carotene: carrots, squashes, sweet potatoes.
  • Lycopene: pink grapefruit, tomatoes (cooked), watermelon.
  • Lutein: most leafy green vegetables.
  • Selenium: grains, protein sources, nuts, legumes.
  • Vitamin A: butter, eggs, milk, liver.
  • Vitamin C: berries, oranges and other citrus, cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, papaya, tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E: almonds, hazelnuts, other nuts and seeds and their oils.

There are actually hundreds of antioxidants. Many are categorized as phenols, polyphenols and flavonoids. And unlike vitamins, it's not possible to capture them all in a supplement, so boosting the quality of your diet is a must.

Berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh . Kale and spinach are the top sources. Eating a wide variety of produce can bring many different health benefits. For instance, eating oranges and grapefruits might lower your stroke risk because of their flavonoids, just one type of antioxidant in these fruits.

The different colors of fruits and vegetables reflect their nutrient makeup. That's why the advice to "eat a rainbow" is a best bet.

Explore further: What are antioxidants? And are they truly good for us?

More information: The American Academy of Family Physicians details the most important antioxidants and their best food sources.

Related Stories

What are antioxidants? And are they truly good for us?

January 11, 2018
Antioxidants seem to be everywhere; in superfoods and skincare, even chocolate and red wine. Products that contain antioxidants are marketed as essential for good health, with promises to fight disease and reverse ageing.

Do vitamin supplements prevent macular degeneration?

October 31, 2017
Vitamin and mineral supplements won't prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration. But there is some evidence taking supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc may slow the progression of age-related ...

Thirteen ways to keep free radicals away, and why it's so important

December 22, 2016
The holiday season is in full swing, and with it comes time for family celebration while gathering around tables full of delicious foods with seasonal spices! But it can also be a stressful time of year, with substantial ...

These foods will lower your risk of heart disease

November 6, 2017
Low-fat or low-carb? Butter or margarine? Avocado oil or coconut oil? Bombarded with contradictory media reports on the ever-changing landscape of nutrition research, it's difficult for anyone to know which fats and other ...

Recommended for you

Genetic changes associated with physical activity reported

December 10, 2018
Time spent sitting, sleeping and moving is determined in part by our genes, University of Oxford researchers have shown. In one of the most detailed projects of its kind, the scientists studied the activity of 91,105 UK Biobank ...

Obesity, risk of cognitive dysfunction? Consider high-intensity interval exercise

December 10, 2018
It's fast-paced, takes less time to do, and burns a lot of calories. High-intensity interval exercise is widely recognized as the most time-efficient and effective way to exercise. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

How to survive on 'Game of Thrones': Switch allegiances

December 9, 2018
Characters in the Game of Thrones TV series are more likely to die if they do not switch allegiance, and are male, according to an article published in the open access journal Injury Epidemiology.

Expert calls for strong, sustainable action to make world roadways safer

December 7, 2018
According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on road safety, more than 1.3 million people die on the world's roadways each year—and millions more are injured or disabled. Yet despite the huge cost to families ...

Hazelnuts improve older adults' micronutrient levels

December 6, 2018
Older adults who added hazelnuts to their diet for a few months significantly improved their levels of two key micronutrients, new research at Oregon State University indicates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.