If there is a fountain of youth, it probably flows through a stalk of broccoli or circles around in an orange. These foods are rich sources of antioxidants—food substances that slow down cell damage and may improve immune function and lower cancer risks. Every day more research emerges that supports the health benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet. So, read on to find out how you can get more of them.
What do antioxidants do, exactly? Consider car rust. The main reason that a car rusts is that over time oxygen starts to wear the car’s body down, allowing for damage in the most vulnerable places. Oxygen works on your body over time, too, and causes rusting of the human sort—wrinkles, cancers and heart disease.
Antioxidants work to capture “free radicals” or unstable molecules that are a byproduct of oxygen. These free radicals damage your body’s cells, tissues and DNA. Cigarette smoke and excess sun exposure can also form free radicals.
But you can bind the action of these free radicals by eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods, protecting your skin from the sun and kicking the smoking habit. The table below details vitamin and mineral sources of antioxidants, how they protect the body and good food sources for them.
Antioxidants By Nutrient Type: Carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc
Antioxidants include plant chemicals called phytochemicals that fight disease. Lycopene (tomatoes) and liminoids (oranges) are among many phytochemicals that are found in the foods above. Additionally, red wine, tea and chocolates are all sources of antioxidants that are at the top of MyPyramid. So, drink unsweetened teas, occasionally enjoy a couple of pieces of high-quality dark chocolate and limit your intake of red wine to one glass per day for women and two for men. There are also many supplements that contain these nutrients, but it is always best to get them from food.
Cut your disease risks by enjoying a variety of antioxidant-rich foods. Drinking from the fountain of youth is as simple as munching on a red pepper.
Hope, Health and,