Antioxidants are compounds that safeguard your cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules produced by metabolism or environmental factors like pollution, cigarette smoke and radiation, according to MedlinePlus. These molecules damage healthy cells and contribute to aging, heart disease and cancer. Eating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables can provide high-quality nutrition helpful in protecting your body.
Deborah Mitchell says in her book "52 Foods and Supplements for a Healthy Heart," that berries are a powerhouse of antioxidants, as well as polyphenols. Blueberries, for example, help to prevent oxidative and inflammatory stress to red blood cells and vessels, Mitchell states. Additionally, a combination of bilberries, strawberries, black currants and ligonberries contain high levels of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helped in lowering high-density lipoprotein levels, or cholesterol.
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E, as well as luetin and selenium. According to the Center for Young Women’s Health, vegetables like arugula, broccoli, collard greens, kale and spinach are also excellent sources of folate, iron and calcium. For optimal absorption of vitamins and minerals, the Center for Young Women’s Health recommends eating dark green leafy vegetables with a poly or monounsaturated fat like extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil.
Lycopene, which is a antioxidative substance, is present in a variety of red fruits like tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits and apricots, according to John Shi and coauthors in the book "Functional Foods: Biochemical and Processing Aspects." Shi says that lycopene is the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant that is effective in neutralizing free radicals. Additional benefits include lycopene’s biological ability to control cell growth and communication.
- MedlinePlus: Antioxidants
- “52 Foods and Supplements for a Healthy Heart”; Deborah Mitchell; 2010
- The Center for Young Women's Health: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
- “Functional Foods: Biochemical and Processing Aspects”; John Shi et al.; 2002
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.