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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Just like rust on a car, oxidation can cause damage to cells and may contribute to aging.

Antioxidants help prevent oxidation, may help increase immune function and possibly decrease risk of infection and cancer. Antioxidants exist as vitamins, minerals and other compounds in foods.

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Antioxidant substances include

  • Beta-carotene

  • Lutein

  • Lycopene

  • Selenium

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin E

    Antioxidants are found in many foods. These include fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish.

    Lycopene is a pigment that gives vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon, their red color. It also appears to have strong antioxidant capabilities.

    Several studies suggest that consumption of foods rich in lycopene is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  • Tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, ketchup and pizza sauce are, by far, the major sources of lycopene in the typical American diet. Enjoy tomato or vegetable juice as a refreshing and healthful snack.

  • When choosing soups.think tomato!

  • Watermelon makes a light, fat-free dessert.

  • Wake up your tastebuds with fresh pink grapefruit along with your favorite breakfast.

    Examples of Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals
    Vitamins Daily Reference Intakes* Antioxidant Activity Sources
    Vitamin A 300-900 µg/d Protects cells from free radicals Liver, dairy products, fish
    Vitamin C 15-90 mg/d Protects cells from free radicals Bell peppers, citrus fruits
    Vitamin E 6-15 mg/d Protects cells from free radicals, helps with immune function and DNA repair Oils, fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, mixed nuts
    Selenium 20-55 µg/d Helps prevent cellular damage from free radicals Brazil nuts, meats, tuna, plant foods

    Antioxidants are present in foods as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols, among others.

    Many antioxidants are often identified in food by their distinctive colors - the deep red of cherries and of tomatoes; the orange of carrots; the yellow of corn, mangos, and saffron; and the blue-purple of blueberries, blackberries, and grapes.

    The most well-known components of food with antioxidant activities are vitamins A, C, and E; ß-carotene; the mineral selenium; and more recently, the compound lycopene.

    An increasing body of evidence suggests beneficial effects of the antioxidants present in grapes, cocoa, blueberries, and teas on cardiovascular health, Alzheimer's disease, and even reduction of the risk of some cancers

    Adapted From:

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