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March 2020

Disease Fighting Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful substances that protect cells in the body from damage.  They ward off disease and have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer as well as slowing the aging process.  These disease-preventing health boosters are found naturally in foods. Plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are especially rich in antioxidants.  Are you getting enough antioxidants to support your health?

Antioxidant Basics
Vitamins C, E, phytonutrients and the mineral selenium act as key antioxidants in the body or boost antioxidant activity. 

  • Vitamin C is the best-known antioxidant and offers a wide variety of health benefits.  It protects the body from infection, cell damage and helps with iron and folate absorption.
  • The main role of vitamin E is as an antioxidant.  It prevents cell damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease and cataracts.

Phytonutrients are naturally occurring substances and in part give color to fruits and vegetables.  They are also found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, beverages and chocolate.

Although supplements of these nutrients have not been shown to be effective, antioxidant-rich diets are associated with healthy aging. 

Minimize Foods That Damage Cells
Step away from processed and highly refined foods as they are associated with the formation of free radicals that damage cells.  These include; refined carbohydrates, added sugars and processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, luncheon meats and bacon.

Fried foods, red meat and alcohol can also damage cells which work against healthy aging.

Boost Antioxidants to Protect Cells

  • To maintain optimal levels of antioxidants, eat small frequent meals.
  • Focus on fresh whole foods or minimally processed foods.
  • Include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables and a variety of colorful fresh produce.   Focus on citrus, strawberries, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and broccoli.  The more colors you eat, the more phytonutrients you get!
  • Use herbs and spices to enhance flavor and promote healthy aging.  Ginger, rosemary and turmeric are packed with antioxidants.
  • Black and green teas, along with coffee, are rich in antioxidants.  Just be mindful of what you put in them.
  • Nuts and seeds are rich in selenium and vitamin E.  Add these to salads or yogurt. 


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