What are Antioxidants and Free Radicals?


Vegetables Contain Antioxidants


Many health care professionals recommend that living a healthy life, including a proper diet and exercise, will help combat the damage of free-radicals.


By: Natasha Morgan

Antioxidants are substances that can protect cells from damage that free radicals can do to your cells. Medical research is aggressively pursuing studies on the effects of antioxidants on free radical damaged cells because some studies have shown that free radical damage may lead to cancer.

Free radicals are molecules that are less stable and that makes them chemically more reactive than stable molecules. In today’s environment, we are exposed to various environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes and radiation that can also lead to free radical formation.

As the chemical reactions occur in our bodies, we are mostly unaware of the constant changes that take place within our cells. By living a healthy life, including a proper diet and exercise, we are giving ourselves the only reasonable defense against life threatening diseases.


Foods rich in antioxidants:

An easy way to identify foods containing antioxidants is to remember them by color:

  • Orange foods contain Beta-carotene and can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos.
  • Red/Orange foods are an excellent source of Lycopene which is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit and blood oranges. All tomato products including sauces will provide some benefits to your health.
  • Green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale contain Lutein, best known for its association with healthy eyes.

Although selenium is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient, it is important in the chemical process within our bodies. Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries. Animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. Brazil nuts also contain large quantities of selenium.

A Word About Vitamins:

To keep our bodies functioning optimally, in our daily diet we should try to include some of the vitamin rich foods listed below:

  • Liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese. (Vitamin A)
  • Fruits, vegetables, cereals, beef, poultry and fish. (Vitamin C)
  • Almonds, mangos, nuts, broccoli and oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils. (Vitamin E)

Note: The intent of this article is to suggest that the reader seeks a healthier lifestyle through proper diet and exercise and is in no way meant to replace advice from a registered dietitian or doctor.

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