Loading up on Antioxidants

The word antioxidants has been a nutrition buzz word from quite some time now but do you still find yourself wondering what it means? Here’s some background on what it means and how it’s good for our body’s.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are naturally found in foods. An antioxidant can be:

  • A vitamin such as vitamins A, C or E
  • Plant chemicals like flavonoids and carotenoids
  • A mineral such as selenium

Antioxidants protect your body’s cells from damage that can occur our body. Cell damage happens naturally as you age or can happen when we are exposed to things like pollution or cigarette smoke. Cell damage can lead to common diseases like heart disease and diabetes. A diet rich in antioxidants can help lower your risk of these diseases

What foods have antioxidants?

Vegetables, fruit, whole grain bread, pasta and cereal, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, garlic, and green tea have antioxidants.

Tips for getting more antioxidants

Vitamin C:

  • Add broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and red, yellow or green peppers to stir fry dishes or serve them with a low fat dip.
  • Add strawberries and raspberries to yogurt or a smoothie or mix them into a fruit salad.
  • Enjoy tropical fruit such as papaya, kiwis, grapefruits, guavas and mangos.

Vitamin E:

  • Sprinkle almonds and sunflower seeds on salads or add them to granola and cereal.
  • Add avocadoes to salads, sandwiches and wraps, smoothies or make a guacamole dip.
  • Choose fish at least twice a week. Mackerel, herring, salmon, halibut and tuna are good sources of vitamin E.

Flavonoids:

  • Choose green tea more often.
  • Add blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to cereal, yogurt, salads, low fat frozen yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Add apples and red grapes to a green salad or fruit salad.

Selenium:

  • Make a mixed bean salad for an appetizer.
  • Bake fish like tilapia, cod, haddock or salmon in the oven.
  • Include meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs and nuts throughout the day.

Carotenoids:

  • Have tomato sauce on top of whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
  • Roast or bake carrots, sweet potato and squash in the oven.
  • Make a tossed salad with spinach, kale and dark leafy vegetables.

Antioxidant info sourced from: http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Antioxidants/What-you-need-to-know-about-antioxidants.aspx

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

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