I often refer to antioxidants as super foods because of how well they help to support your immune system. They are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables that protect and repair damaged cells from free radicals. It is the damage caused by free radicals that can compromise your immune system making you more susceptible to colds and flu.
Some experts have said that antioxidants help in the prevention of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute “Considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer. However, information from recent clinical trials is less clear. In recent years, large-scale, randomized clinical trials reached inconsistent conclusions.”
You may notice a difference in your health by simply adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet. But not all fruit and vegetables have the same amount of antioxidants in them as others. There are three major antioxidant vitamins you should try to get more of. These include beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow colours.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
Other antioxidant rich vitamins are:
- Vitamin A. Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks, and mozzarella cheese.
- Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges.
- Lutein is associated with healthy eyes,and is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.
- Selenium is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient. However, it is a part of antioxidant enzymes. Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium. The amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the foods grown in that soil. Because of this, animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. In the United States and Canada, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium.
Other superfoods rich in antioxidants are:
- All berries
- Red grapes
- Alfalfa sprouts
Eating whole fresh foods is the best way of supplementing any nutrient. Try to eat them raw when ever possible, or lightly steaming your vegetables; avoid over cooking them to keep their vital nutrients.
Try to eat as many of the Antioxidant Superfoods each day to boost your immune system and keep you at your best.