1. What are antioxidants?
Free radicals are molecules that are missing electrons. When free radicals come into contact with your body's cell they can steal electrons resulting in cellular damage. Antioxidants are molecules that will donate their electrons to free radicals, thereby minimizing cellular damage.
Although antioxidants can be sold in a pill, these supplemental forms have been found to have health risks. The good news is that antioxidants from food have no safety concerns associated with them (Plumbo, 2013) and are found in foods like red cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and even apples. Antioxidants include things like Beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins like A, C, E and anthocyanins to name a few. Carrots have Beta-carotene, tomatoes have lycopene, pineapple has vitamin C, spinach has vitamin E and pomegranates have anthocyanins. A good way to make sure you are getting a variety of antioxidants is to eat the color of the rainbow in fruits and vegetables. "Colorful foods are often healthier because they contain antioxidant pigments . . .The colors are the antioxidants" (Greger, 2015, p.289). However, don't let that stop you from eating light colored vegetables and fruit. Cauliflower has sulforaphane, a promising anticancer agent, and mushrooms have ergothioneine, an amino acid that acts like an antioxidant and protects your cells. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, variety is key!
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