Antioxidants: Foods vs Supplements
You might think that taking an antioxidant supplement means that you don't need to worry about the foods you eat? Not so, according to the Mayo Clinic's, Dr. Donald Hensrud, M.D.(Endocrinology). Dr. Hensrud suggests that while it is true that antioxidants play a role in preventing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and macular degeneration, research indicates that simply taking antioxidant supplements is not the best way for your body to get what it needs.
What are antioxidants?
Substances such as Vitamins C and E, carotene, lycopene, and lutein play a role in helping to prevent disease by neutralizing free radicals, which are toxic by-products of natural cell metabolism. They can also be introduced into the body by exposure to substances like cigarette smoke, pesticides, even sunlight. Free radicals do perform some useful immune functions, but in excess or in the wrong place, they can damage healthy cells.
Our bodies naturally produces anitioxidants, which are quite effective at neutralizing free radicals. But eating a well balanced diet is your best source of ensuring you are getting enough antioxidants to keep your body healthy and your immune system in peak shape.
What foods should you eat?
It is best to include a wide variety of foods as part of a healthy diet. Here are some of the best sources of antioxidants:
Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries
Beans: Small red beans, kidney, pinto, and black beans
Fruits: Apples with peel, avocados, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple, and kiwi
Vegetables: Artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes with skin, sweet potatoes and broccoli
Beverages: Green tea, coffee, red wine, and fruit juices such as pomegraanate
Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds
Herbs: Ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, dried oregano leaf, turmeric powder
Grains: oat-based products
Dessert: Dark Chocolate
According to Dr. Hensrud, a bonus of eating foods high in antioxidants offer additional health benefits such as being high in fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals, while being low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
For more information on this and other health topics, visit www.MayoClinic.com
The information in this article appeared in The Orlando Sentinel in July 2009, and was distributed by Tribune Media Services