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The Low Down on Anti-oxidants

The Low Down on Anti-oxidants

So what is all the hype about anti-oxidants and do they really benefit us?

Let’s start by defining what antioxidants actually are. They are nutrients that slow the oxidative damage in our tissue. Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in the body’s cells, it produces free radicals (reactive substances). Free radicals harm the body’s cells. Antioxidants counteract the actions of the free radicals preventing various diseases, including cancer, as well as providing anti-ageing effects.

How can I get antioxidants?! I hear you ask.

  • Vitamin A and Carotenoids : apples, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, collards, kale, peaches, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash.
  • Vitamin C : Citrus fruit, green peppers, leafy green vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts), strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E : green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, vegetable oil and liver oil.
  • Beta carotene: Bright orange foods; apricots, carrots, orange peppers, mangos
  • Flavonoids and polyphenols : Cranberries, pomegranates, red/purple grapes, red wine, soy and tea.
  • Lycopene : pink grapefruit, tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Lutein : dark green vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, kiwi, and spinach).
  • Lignan : barley, flax seed, oatmeal and rye.
  • Selenium : Brazil nuts, chicken, eggs, garlic, grains, fish, onions, red meat, shellfish, whole grains.

Top 5

Berries

Blackberries especially as the University of Oslo found they contained the most antioxidants per serving.

Strawberries are rich in fibre and vitamin C (129% of your recommended daily allowance).

Cranberries have disease fighting properties.

Raspberries contain vitamin C and polyphenolic compounds fight cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Blue berries protect the skin from ageing and contain anthocyanins which prevent heart disease.

Beans

Small dried red beans (a whole 13,727 antioxidants).

Small dried black beans.

Dried red kidney beans.

Pinto beans.

Garlic

Lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and maintains sugar levels. (Not suggested that you eat it raw, but add it to meals for flavour).

Green tea

Prevents cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and promotes weight loss.

Nuts

Many nuts are high in vitamin E, fibre and omega-3

Almonds

Hazelnuts

Pecans

Pistachios

Walnuts

Though nuts are cholesterol free, they are high in calories so consume sparingly.

Tomatoes

Lycopene which is an anticancer agent that prevents heart disease and lowers blood pressure.

And finally…If you feel like a treat you’re in luck

Chocolate or more specifically cocoa has antioxidant properties, with dark chocolate providing the most antioxidants. However be aware of high fat and sugar content.