How to Include Antioxidants in Your Diet

What Can Antioxidants Not Do?

courtesy of www.garyolsen.com/cartoons/antioxidants.jpg
courtesy of www.garyolsen.com/cartoons/antioxidants.jpg

We’ve all heard about antioxidants and what they can do for our health. In fact, is there anything antioxidants cannot do? From boosting the immune system to preventing cancer, antioxidant is the buzz-word of health and prevention, of nutrition and the toast of healthy diet. But what are antioxidants and how can we include them in our daily diet?

According to Columbia University, antioxidant is a collective term for vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and polyphenols that protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are formed when oxygen molecules in the body become electrically charged or oxidized due to natural cellular activity of the body or exposure to environmental factors such as pollution, radiation from the sun or exposure to hazardous elements, including tobacco smoke. The oxidized oxygen molecule becomes a free radical and is highly unstable and reactive and attempt to steal electrons from other molecules, including DNA and cellular molecules. This can cause cellular damage that can give rise to a number of health problems including heart disease, the aging process, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage and unlike other molecules, antioxidants do not become reactive when they lose an electron.

In short, antioxidants act like police, capturing damaging free radicals to prevent them from causing cellular damage.


Health Benefits of Antioxidants

  • Fights Cancer

The National Cancer Institute states that considerable evidence from chemical, cell culture and animal studies show that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent development of cancer. It goes on to point out that recent clinical trials are less conclusive.

  • Reduce Risks of Alzheimer’s disease

About 4 million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a debilitating disease that causes memory loss, impaired thinking and changes in personality. Two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a link between high intakes of antioxidants from food and reduced risks of developing AD.

  • Prevents Wrinkles

This is perhaps welcomed news for ladies—antioxidants can prevent wrinkles! The University of Maryland Medical Center states that antioxidant ointments, creams and lotions can be topically applied to skin to ease wrinkles away.

  • Coronary Heart Disease and strokes

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. According to Cleveland Clinic eating a diet rich in antioxidants has been linked to reduced risks of cardiovascular disease.

No, I’m not trying to namedrop, but these are serious health claims that are research based, so antioxidants may be that potent after all. It is important to note that some findings are inconclusive or debatable, but the general consensus is that antioxidants are beneficial to health. So, if you’re wondering how you can include antioxidants in your diet to promote health, here is the scoop-- from what kinds of foods to choose to how to include them in your diet –you have a wide selection.

Fruits and Vegetables

You’re told to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and there are good reasons for this recommendation. Fruits and vegetables offer a wide variety of antioxidants. Not only are they rich sources of vitamins, nutrients and fiber, their colors tell a story too. Brilliantly colored fruits and vegetables are not only beautiful visually, their colors are indicative of their rich antioxidant properties. These colorful pigments—red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and black belong to a group of antioxidants, called anthocynains. Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you garner the healthy benefits of antioxidants. The next time, you are at a grocery store or strolling through the farmer’s market, think colors. The brighter, the better.

Fruits and vegetables also contain other antioxidants. Orange-colored vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, squash, apricots, mangos are rich in beta-carotene. Some green vegetables also contain beta-carotene underneath their green pigments. Examples include collard greens, spinach and kale. These greens are also rich in lutein, best known for promoting eye health.

If you associate the word lycopene with tomatoes, commonly touted by Heinz ketchup as the reason why you should eat more of it, you’re right. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant associated with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration, according to Medline Plus. If you don’t like tomatoes, consider other lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables: watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit and blood oranges.

It is easy to overlook the vitamin content found in vegetables because they are old news but vegetables are rich sources of vitamins. In particular vitamin A, C and E are powerful antioxidants found abundantly in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell functions and the immune system. Vitamin C is important for skin, bones and connective tissue. It also promotes healing and helps the body to absorb iron. Vitamin E is discussed in the section below.


Beautiful Colors of Health

courtesy of www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-set/BQcDAAAAAwoDanBn
courtesy of www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-set/BQcDAAAAAwoDanBn

If you're looking for more ideas to cook vegetables, check this out:

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/vegetable/

Need more ideas for salads, check out:

Salad Recipes


Put them in Your Diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables are easy to incorporate in your daily diet. Fruits make natural healthy snacks, smoothies, pies and desserts.
  • Vegetables make good salad, or cut them up into sticks and wedges to eat with healthy dips. They are great in soups, make tasty stir-fry and add variety, texture and color to soups, casseroles and stews.

It is easy to stick to your favorite vegetables and fruits but the trick is to eat a variety of them and from different color groups.

How to Make Tobbouleh.

Barley Soup, anyone?

No-bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies--how about that?

Whole Grains

Whole grains are often associated with fiber but recent researches are uncovering more reasons to eat these groups of carbohydrates. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), whole grains possess antioxidant activities that are not present in highly refined grains. In fact, they went on to point out that a serving of whole grain and/or high fiber breakfast cereals is equivalent to or greater than a typical serving of vegetables.

Joe Vinson, PhD, a chemist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, further explains this antioxidant-whole grain connection:

"Early researchers thought the fiber was the active ingredient for these benefits in whole grains, the reason why they may reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. But recently, polyphenols emerged as potentially more important. Breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, and salty snacks constitute over 66% of whole grain intake in the U.S. diet."

As you recalled, polyphenols are a group of antioxidants found in plants and they have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Put them in Your Diet:

Whole grain goodness can be found in a wide selection: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers, wild rice. Use them to replace refined carbohydrates in your diet. Here’s some ideas of how you can use make these whole grain delicious:

  • Barley can be added to soup or stews.
  • Bulgur is often used in the making of Tobbouleh.
  • Wild rice goes well with main entrees like steak, fish or even seafood.
  • Oatmeal can doubled up as breakfast cereal and added to cookies and desserts.
  • Popcorn as a snack—no movie-viewing would be the same without the some nicely toasted pop-corn (go easy on the butter).

Nuts, Seeds and Vegetable Oils

What does this motley bunch have in common? Vitamin E. Vitamin E  boosts the immune system and helps metabolic processes and is found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, mango and other fruits and vegetables.

Put them in Your Diet:

  • Vegetable oils can be used in salad dressings or for stir-fry.
  • Nuts make good snacks, and they make a good addition to trail mix.
  • Nuts also make good topping for desserts and are often used in baking too.

Tea is a cup of life. ~Author Unknown

courtesy of tasteofenglishtea.files.wordpress.com/2009/03
courtesy of tasteofenglishtea.files.wordpress.com/2009/03

Green tea smoothie to rev up your day and your immune system.

Tea

We all need a beverage to wash down our meal. What better choice than a cup of tea—black or green, served hot or cold? It is full of catechins, powerful polyphenols that can help fight cellular damage.

John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y., says, “Whether it’s green or black, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.”

Put It in Your Diet:

  • Make tea your beverage of choice. Drink it after a meal or when you need to unwind from a stressful day at work.
  • Green tea has been used to make desserts and smoothies.

Antioxidants are not just found in plants or plant products, selenium, an important component of antioxidant enzymes are found in chicken, eggs, dairy products, salmon, seafood, tuna in addition to Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, garlic, onion, whole grains and most vegetables.

Copyright @ Angeline Oppeneheimer


More articles on antioxidants

Anthocyanins: Powerful Antioxidants to Promote Health

Most people use a color chart to pick color coordinates to decorate their homes. Women pick colors to accentuate their beauty and style. Why not use a color chart when picking out foods to maximize health benefits?

Ten Best Antioxidant-rich Vegetables

Shows slides of the ten vegetables with the most antioxidants.

Ten Best Antioxidant-rich Fruits

Shows Slides of ten best antioxidant fruits

More health hubs by anglnwu:

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

More than just a spice for baking and cooking, nutmeg can deliver many health benefits. From zapping acne to promoting good dental health, this spicy and sweet spice is a great nutritional add to your life.

Curative and Preventive Powers of Pu-erh Tea

Green tea has long stolen the limelight—what can this starlet not do? From banishing bad breath to trimming inches off the waist, green tea has all the answers. Now, along come Pu-erh tea—kind of like the new kid on the block (it’s still bashful but it holds tremendous health capabilities ) but actually this tea has a long history of medicinal use—a 2,000 year history tracing back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD).

Nutritional Value of Salsa

Salsa the dance or salsa the sauce? As a food lover, I would opt for Salsa, the condiment everyday. Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce and it invariably consists of chilies, tomatoes and spices.

Sneaking nutrition into Sack Lunches

Nutritionist and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler, believes in packing school lunches. She says, “I’m a big fan of school lunches, but you have more control over the cost and what your child eats if you pack lunch at home.”

Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

Growing up in Singapore, my mother has a rich arsenal of herbs stashed in cabinets in the kitchen. She believes strongly in Chinese herbs but I was too young and “uninformed” to realize how powerful these herbs lurking in the cabinet can be

More by this Author


Comments 53 comments

Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

A very good and informative hub. thumbs up!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Putz, thanks for dropping by. Good to see you again.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

No wonder the Chinese have tea with nearly every meal!

You never cease to amaze me by the depth of your hubs, anglnwu! Your hubs are always so helpful and like the foods you've promoted here, reading your hubs is healthy all around! Wonderful work and great tips!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

angi - we really must do some collaboration - this information you here is so clear cut and informative you are inspiring me to do something to take it further!!! Information is great and your layout just makes you want to read more!! Thumbs up:)


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

angel, this is complete images are appropriate layout is nice and explanation, Maita


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Shari, thanks for the thumbs up. You're serious about taking up my offer, jokes aside?


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Pretty Maita, is this your morning wake up call? Appreciate your comments and see you around.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Very good source of information.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Sandyspider. Have a good day.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

was not joking .. . Im serious!!!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Shari, really?? Talk to u soon.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Very interesting hub. I wrote one recently on the growing of usual vegetables in unusual colours. Often things like purple carrots, purple or orange cauliflowers etc are actually higher in antioxidants than 'normal' coloured ones. If you are interested please take a read of it.


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

anglnwu great hub, very well done as usual and full of good information. Rated ans stumbled. :)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

mistyhorizon, thanks for dropping by. You're right, purple carrots and orange cauliflowers are higher in antioxidants. I will be reading the hub you suggested. Thanks again.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

hypnodude, it's always good to hear from you. thanks for the positive feedback and have a great day.


Cassidella profile image

Cassidella 6 years ago

Beautiful hub with great info! I bookmarked it mostly for the unusual tobbouleh salad recipe. Looking forward to trying that.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Cassidella, good to see you again. You'll like the tobbouleh salad. I make them a lot and it doubles up as a complete meal when you add some meat or beans. Thanks for dropping by.


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Another great hub anginwu! Full of great ideas on how to include antioxidants in your diet. Congrats on being selected as one of this week's contestants. :)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Money Glitch, thanks for your kind comments. I'm glad you stopped by.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Congratulations on your nomination.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

angel, read my email! Take care friend! Maita


vaccine profile image

vaccine 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

The title that caught my eyes! Congratulations for a very informative hub! 3 hours to end of voting!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Sandyspider, thanks!

Maita, had a laugh when I read your email. Wish you luck too!

Vaccine, thanks for dropping by and I'll be checking out your hubs.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

Very good advice and helpful videos. I'll try making the no-bake oatmeal cookies some day. Congrats, anglnwu :)


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Hey anglnwu, You Go Girl! Just stopped by again to say congratulations on win the best hub this week. Great hub! :)


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

I love barley cooked anywhichway. And tea...your smoothie is one I've got to try. Loved the 'outtakes' on the video too. Thanks for great informative colorful hub! And congrats for being a winner!!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Om, thanks for dropping by and thanks for the congrats. You're quite a winner too and i totally love your hubs.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Money Glitch, thank you so much for taking time off to send your congrats. You know I think the world of you and your congrats is very much appreciated.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

frogyfish, it's really good to see you again. Thanks! I love barley too. In Asia, we make a refreshing barley drink too. Take care and I'm off to visit your hubs.


Cassidella profile image

Cassidella 6 years ago

Hi anglnwu, back again to congratulate you on week #4 win! Fantastic job!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Cassidella, good to see u and thanks for coming back to congratulate me--I deeply appreciate that.


sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

Fantastic hub! Love the colors of health graphic! I use more barley these days, great filler in soups! Teas, too! Congratulations!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

sagebrush, thank you for taking time off your homeschooling and your busy life to comment. Thanks for the congrats. More power to barley, right?


Michael Jay profile image

Michael Jay 6 years ago

Wow! You did a really great job, anglnwu! Congratulations!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Jay, you're winner too!


peacefulparadox 6 years ago

I'm a big believer in anti-oxidants. I try to eat a variety of colors of fruits and veggies. Blueberries are great. I sometimes take some anti-oxidant supplements too.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

peacefulparadox, for sure, you're one healthy person. Keep it up and thanks for your comments.


hypnosis4u2 profile image

hypnosis4u2 6 years ago from Massachusetts

Very informative hub anginwu - I'm also a firm believer in anti-oxidants.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

hypnosis, I'm with you--I'm a firm believer in antioxidants too. Thanks for dropping by.


PrakashJ 6 years ago

Great work! this generation is in dire need of this info!!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Prakash! I agree with you!


Margaret 5 years ago

Haha! That cartoon with the bald guy is brilliant. As usual this Hub is entertaining but also very informative. I'm totally with Prakash too - We need this information. Power to you for sharing it.

Margaret


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Margaret, for your positive feedback. I love the cartoon too--it speaks volumes. Appreciate your comments very much.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Super encouragement here to help us pay attention to getting antioxidants into our diet. Thanks for a great guideline. Bookmarked and voted up.


Debbie 4 years ago

Wow, this hub has some really detailed information on antioxidants. What are your thoughts on anti oxidant supplements? Do you think there is any negative effects to taking them?

http://www.antioxidantfoods.co/


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Rtalloni, always good to hear from you. Thanks for your vote of confidence and enjoy your day.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Debbie for commenting. I think that natural antioxidants found in fresh foods are better than supplements as nutrients work better when they are working in tedem with other nutrients found naturally in food. Your blog looks interesting.


kjrzeek1 profile image

kjrzeek1 4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

Not enough people understand the importance of eating correctly!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

I agree with you, kjrzeek. The best way to protect against diseases and ill-health is a proper healthy diet. Thanks for commenting.


Max Walls 4 years ago

I figured out more new stuff on this losing weight issue. A single issue is a good nutrition is highly vital any time dieting. A tremendous reduction in bad foods, sugary foods, fried foods, sweet foods, red meat, and whitened flour products could be necessary. Possessing wastes parasites, and toxins may prevent targets for shedding fat. While specified drugs temporarily solve the challenge, the bad side effects are certainly not worth it, and they also never provide more than a short-lived solution. It is a known fact that 95% of fad diets fail. Thank you for sharing your notions on this website.

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anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Max walls, I agree with you that fad diets don't work.If they do, obesity rates won't be rising. Thanks for dropping by to comment.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I am happy to say we follow most of what you wrote. Lots of produce in all colors. Probably more than five servings of each. You just feel better eating healthy and that is the main reason. Also we really enjoy eating a lot of veggies and fruit. Keeps our weight down also. Thanks for sharing this great hub.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Carol, appreciate your comments. Glad you enjoy vegetables and as you pointed out, a good way to keep weight down. Have a great day.

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