Every day, our bodies are exposed to harmful substances called free radicals that can cause damage to cells linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer. So, what can we do to protect ourselves from these destructive free radicals? The answer is to make sure we get a good supply of antioxidants in our diet.
The term antioxidant encompasses a wide scope of substances that protect the body from free radicals. Studies have found that a diet high in antioxidants, especially starting early in life, has been linked to a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer. Some common antioxidants include beta carotene, vitamin C, tocopherols (vitamin E), zinc and selenium, which can be found in fruits, vegetables and nuts. However, these are not the only sources of antioxidants. It is easy to incorporate these disease-fighting agents into your diet with the following foods:
Berries: High in polyphenol antioxidants, daily berry consumption is linked to decreased blood pressure.
Orange and Red Vegetables: Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and squash are high in vitamins A and C and help protect cells from damage.
Beans: The zinc content in beans can reduce inflammation and help protect blood vessels from damage.
Spinach, Kale and Broccoli: These green veggies are great sources of vitamins A and C and can fight against numerous diseases.
Whole Grains: Processed grains have decreased nutrient content. Add whole grains such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice to your diet for increased zinc and selenium to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Green Tea: The antioxidant found in green tea called EGCG is correlated with reduced cancer risk.
Nuts: The vitamin E present in nuts is a highly functioning antioxidant and fights against heart disease, cancer and eye degeneration.
Dish up a healthy meal filled with antioxidants to keep your body protected.
Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
2. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
4. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics