5 years ago

A guide to antioxidants    

By: Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s registered dietitian/nutritionist

July is prime time for produce, so load your plate with nature’s bounty! In addition to being delicious, fruits and vegetables provide us with rich sources of antioxidants that offer many health benefits.

So what is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants are nutrients in food that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage your cells). Your body creates free radicals when you breathe in pollution or when you digest foodand attack healthy cells. This cell damage may increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, diabetes or infections. Antioxidants act as scavengers and prevent or repair damage done by free radicals.

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants is highly recommended to help protect your body!  

What foods have them?
Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, some meat, poultry and fish and dark chocolate. They’re also found in red wine and green tea. Many nutrients are also antioxidants, including Vitamins A, C, and E, and carotenoids like beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein.
Tips for eating more:

  • Eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables for a variety of nutrients
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable every time you shop
  • Add nuts to salads, soups and cereal
  • Experiment with fresh herbs and spices
  • Choose whole grain foods

A Handy Guide to Antioxidants

Beta-Carotene         
Found in: Orange or yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots and cantaloupe; dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale
Benefits: Beta-carotene promotes eye health.

Lutein
Found in: Leafy greens such as spinach; corn, carrots, and squash
Benefits:  Research indicates that lutein may help lower the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Lycopene
Found in: Red, fleshy fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and tomatoes
Benefits: Diets rich in lycopene may help protect against heart disease.

Selenium
Found in: Seafood, lean meats and whole grains
Benefits: Research often suggests that selenium may have a preventive effect against cancer.

Vitamin A
Found in: Animal sources such as eggs, meat and dairy
Benefits: Research indicates that vitamin A promotes clear and healthy vision. It also helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, and skin.

Vitamin C
Found in: Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit; bell peppers and broccoli
Benefits: Among its many functions, vitamin C can aid tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function and wound repair. It may also help cure or prevent colds by boosting the immune system.

Vitamin E
Found in: Wheat germ, nuts and monounsaturated oils
Benefits: Vitamin E promotes heart health.

Join me this month at several of our stores to sample delicious antioxidant-rich foods and talk about ways to add these nutritious foods to your daily eating plan. See our app for store locations and times. To your health!