Antioxidants and Your Health
What are Antioxidants?
An antioxidant is a chemical that inhibits the reactions of potentially harmful oxidizing agents in the body. Antioxidants can help protect against cell damage by neutralizing molecules in the body called “free radicals.” Antioxidants are thought to help prevent cancer and heart disease, and can be found naturally in some plants.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are ions that have unpaired electrons in their outer shells. They are highly reactive molecules and play a role in many different biological processes. Although some free radicals are necessary, they have also been linked to cancer, because they react with DNA and cause mutations to occur.
Types of Antioxidants
- Beta-carotene: a non-toxic nutrient known for its antioxidant powers. It can be found naturally in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, as well as green leafy foods.
- Lutein: known to promote good eyesight. It can be found in many green, leafy vegetables.
- Lycopene: a red carotenoid and a powerful antioxidant that is found in red fruits such as tomatoes and berries.
- Selenium: trace amounts of selenium are necessary for enzymes and cell functions in living things. Selenium is rich in antioxidants, and can be found in foods such as meat, rice, and wheat.
- Vitamin A: also known as retinol, Vitamin A is an important nutrient. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and is essential for proper growth and vision. It may be obtained from eating animal products or yellow, orange, and dark green fruits/vegetables.
- Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and an antioxidant, which can be found in citrus fruits and green vegetables.
- Vitamin E: vitamin and antioxidant that consists of compounds found in eggs, many types of oils, and leafy vegetables.
- Anthocyanidins: Also known as “flavonals,” anthocynanidins are a group of flavonoids that protect against collagen damage due to inflammation. They are also antioxidants that may help improve blood vessel health. Anthocyanidins are found in fruits such as cranberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
Good Sources of Antioxidants
- Russet Potatoes
- Pinto Beans
- Red Beans
- Red Kidney Beans