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Amazing Antioxidants

Authored by: Gail Anderson, RD, U of MN Public Health Nutrition student

You may have heard that antioxidants are healthy. But, what exactly are they, and how can you get them in your diet? Having a diet rich in antioxidants may not be as complicated as you think.

Antioxidants include vitamins A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and selenium. They help repair damage to your cells and help prevent future damage to your body. Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals, which are molecules that are produced by your body from environmental exposures (such as tobacco smoke or the sun) or when your body breaks down food. Antioxidants prevent this damage, which reduces your risk for problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will ensure that you are getting plenty of antioxidants. For example, vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. Vitamin A is found in foods such as carrots, spinach, and cantaloupe. Sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil. This list will get you started, but there are plenty of other sources of antioxidants as well.

Look for fruits and vegetables that are rich in color. When possible, it is best to obtain antioxidants through your diet rather than supplements. Getting in a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to do this. Pick up some of your favorite items at the farmer’s market, and also try some items that are new to you. This will ensure that your diet is loaded with antioxidants!

For more information:
American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=3813&terms=what+is+an+ant…
Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antioxidants.html?debugMode=false