In the United States and other western countries, we eat a lot of food that is very poor in essential nutrients. About 60% of our diet is made up of fat and sugar. This kind of diet causes premature aging and diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, periodontitis (loosening of teeth), osteoporosis (weak bones) and cancer.
Antioxidants are believed to fight the formation of free radicals and may help prevent the diseases. These protective compounds are common in our foods such as Vitamins A, C, E, Coenzyme Q10 and beta-carotene, selenium and lycopene and catechins. If we eat food rich in antioxidants, we can help our body to function in a healthier way.
Here is example of foods (in alphabetic order) that are very rich in antioxidants:
Berries can help preventing cancer and heart diseases. A landmark study shows that just one cup of berries provides all the disease-fighting antioxidants you need in a single day. Berries are also rich in fibers, vitamins and minerals.
Recent studies show that those eating the cruciferous vegetables have a much lower risk of prostate, colorectal and lung cancer, even when compared to those who regularly eat other vegetables.
Carrots contain beta-carotene and the trace mineral selenium, both well known antioxidants. They provide protection against lung, bladder, breast, esophageal and stomach cancers, heart disease and the progression of arthritis. Notice that cooked carrots have higher levels of antioxidants than uncooked according to researchers at theUniversity of Arkansas.
Garlic can lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, keep blood from clotting, fight free radicals, help preventing cancer, has anti-fungal properties, can help treat asthma
Oranges helps fight age-related diseases. They contain a water-soluble fiber called pectin that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and also suppresses hunger up to four hours after eating.
The fresh version (plums) and the dried version (prunes) of the plant are rich in phenols, and their function as antioxidants has been well-documented. They are also very rich in vitamin C that helps to protect cholesterol from becoming oxidized by free radicals, thus preventing damage to blood vessels. Plums and prunes also help with absorption of iron and improve the immune system.
10 ounces (283 grams) of fresh spinach produce the biggest rise in the women’s blood antioxidant scores, according to USDA. The rise was even greater than an intake of 1,250 milligrams of vitamin C. Studies have shown that food antioxidants (like the spinach) not only are absorbed; they boost the antioxidant power of the blood.
Green tea extracts contain catechins that have potent antioxidant properties and have become popular natural medicines. It can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases.
Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their color, is a powerful antioxidant. It can help prevent lung-, colon- and breast cancer, macular degeneration and cataracts. It can also help maintain mental function as we age and boost immune function. You should try to eat cooked tomatoes, since they allow more desirable antioxidants.
Vitamin E in whole grains is a potent antioxidant, important in preventing prostate-, breast-, colon- and liver cancers. It can boost immunity, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, prevent sunburn and treat male infertility.