Fruits are not alone in their abundance of antioxidants; antioxidant vegetables are also a tasty way to get the power of anti-aging nutrients into your diet. And even though beans aren’t routinely thought of when you think vegetables, red beans and kidney beans have very high levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants!
What is an Antioxidant?
Antioxidants are nutrients that neutralize the effects of damaging free radicals from our environment, on our body’s cells. Normally human cells have complete electron shells that are stable and not electrically charged. However, free radicals have incomplete electron shells that are more chemically reactive, which makes them electrically charged. These “electrified” free radical molecules will try to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other stable molecules, or cells causing DNA damage that leads to diseases–including cancer.
How do Antioxidants Improve Health?
When we eat antioxidant rich foods, our bodies get the DNA-protecting benefits of those nutrients, neutralizing the unstable molecules and improving our body health (as well as protecting us for disease and signs of aging).
Some of the most commonly recognized antioxidants include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
What Antioxidant-Rich Vegetables Should You Eat?
Don’t just limit your antioxidant foods to fruits–vegetables are just as healthy, and there are even more of them to enjoy! Try to get the American Cancer Society’s 9 recommended servings of antioxidants (for top cancer fighting) by choosing some of the vegetables below at each meal:
- Lycopene- found in tomatoes, red carrots, green leafy vegetables and red bell peppers.
- Vitamin A- found in sweet potatoes, spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, winter squash and carrots.
- Vitamin C- found in broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts.
- Vitamin E – found in olives, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens and collard greens.
- Lutein – found in leafy green vegetables like Kale, spinach and romaine lettuce, zucchini, corn, peas, brussels sprouts, turnip greens and broccoli.
- Beta Carotene – found in collard greens, turnip greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and kale.
Many of these vegetables are rich in more than one of the key antioxidants you need for health! So getting a variety of the nutrients your body needs from antioxidant vegetables can be an easy, enjoyable task!