Antioxidants: Nature’s Medicine

Posted May 6, 2011 | Posted in Fitness & Nutrition

While strolling the supermarket, you’ve probably seen foods or supplements touting that they’re “high in antioxidants.” So, what are antioxidants and how can you benefit from them?

When our cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals. These free radicals can cause damage that contribute to a number of health problems such as heart disease, muscular degeneration, diabetes and cancer.

That’s where antioxidants come into play. These nutrients act as “free radical scavengers” and prevent and repair damage. They may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

The best way to get the antioxidants you need is through a healthy diet. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish. Keep an eye out for these foods that are great sources of the following antioxidants:

  • Beta-carotene: sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, mangoes, collard greens, spinach and kale
  • Lutein: collard greens, spinach and kale
  • Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit and blood oranges
  • Selinium: fish, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
  • Vitamin A: carrots, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, sweet potatoes and carrots
  • Vitamin C: red peppers, oranges, guava, kiwi, grapefruit, cherries, strawberries, brussel sprouts and cantaloupe
  • Vitamin E: almonds, mangoes, and broccoli

Here’s a fun smoothie recipe that’s packed with antioxidants:

Antioxidant Rich FoodsBerry Good Smoothie

1 cup frozen berries
½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup soy milk
2 handfuls spinach or kale
4 baby carrots
1 tablespoon honey

Place the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Don’t be scared of the green tint of the spinach or kale–you won’t taste the vegetables but they’ll be working wonders for your immune system!

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