Antioxidants are typically credited in nutrition for preventing some of the most threatening diseases, such as heart ailments and cancer, and also for combating much of the damage that comes with the aging process. The main antioxidants come from a range of foods that should be in every diet, including fruits and vegetables, oils and grains. Most common antioxidants fall into a few different categories, some of which are vitamins you’ve most likely already heard of for their various other health benefits. See below for the breakdown.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that works to reduce free radicals in the body, which are necessary for many bodily processes, but in excess play a part in cell destruction that leads to cancer and heart disease. It’s been seen as especially helpful in protecting against the harmful effects of smoke, according to theAntioxidantGuide, an educational website on the class of nutrients. Vitamin C has been seen as essential in fighting off colds, but its role as an antioxidant is a bit more scientifically founded. Citrus fruit such as oranges and grapefruits are the most obvious Vitamin C sources, but a wealth of other foods contain the antioxidant. Look to kiwi,cantaloupe and red and green peppers.
2. Vitamin E
Fat-soluble Vitamin E helps prevent the negative effects when fat is oxidized in the body. It can decrease the buildup of fat in arteries, stop the growth and formation of cancers and helps fight arthritis. Look to what you would typically consider to foods full of the healthy unsaturated fats for good sources of the antioxidant. Vitamin E is found in various vegetable oils, such as corn oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil. It’s also prominent in peanut butter, hazelnuts and almonds. Certain produce items contain a healthy dose of Vitamin E as well, including spinach and mango.
The carotenoid group of antioxidants is a set of pigments that gives foods their red, yellow and orange colors and is found in foods of similar shades. Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A when ingested and is in carrots, dark greens and certain squashes. Lycopene is the red carotenoid pigment included in tomatoes and has been seen to help promote prostate health. Carotenoids, particularly lutein, also have a place in preventing harmful effects of aging on vision. Eat eggs, broccoli, dark lettuces and corn for lutein.
Flavonoids continue the fight against free radicals, give foods their deep dark pigments and challenge bacteria and allergens in the body, boosting health overall. The best part is they’re found in foods commonly considered treats, meaning you won’t have to punish your taste buds to ingest this excellent antioxidant. Consume berries, citrus fruits, white and green tea, dark chocolate and even red wine to get your disease-fighting portion of flavonoids. Look for chocolate with high cocoa contents and red wines fermented with their skins, which typically give them that bolder flavor. Fight disease while enjoying a dessert of dark chocolate and berries, washing both down with wine.