Good Foods for Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds found in food that help to prevent damage from free radicals. Free radicals are damaged molecules that are believed to contribute to aging and degenerative diseases. Important antioxidants that have been identified include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, lycopene, anthocyanins, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid and flavonoids.

Red, Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables

Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables are rich in anthocyanins, and, according to Dr. Monica Giusti of the University of Ohio, they are also powerful cancer fighters. The deeper and richer the color, the higher the content of anthocyanins. Red, blue and purple berries, beets, eggplant, red cabbage, red and purple grapes, red grapefruit and blood oranges all contain anthocyanins. Red fruits and vegetables also contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin and hesperidin, all antioxidants.

Orange and Yellow Fruits and Vegetables

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium and vitamin C. Choose from apricots and peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, carrots, yellow grapefruit, lemons and oranges, papaya and mango, persimmon, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tangerines, summer squash, banana squash and butternut squash.

Green Vegetables

Green vegetables contain lutein, vitamin C, calcium and beta-carotene. Include leafy greens, cabbage and its relatives such as Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and broccoli rabe, green beans, green onion, leeks, peas, zucchini and cucumbers in your diet.

Spices and Herbs

Culinary spices and herbs contain many healthful antioxidants, even when used in small amounts. Choose from spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, curry powder, mustard seed, ginger, pepper, chili powder, paprika and cardamom. Herbs include oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, peppermint, oregano, parsley, savory, basil and dill weed. Garlic and onion are also rich in antioxidants.

Legumes

Legumes, especially small red beans, kidney beans and pinto beans, contain protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates as well as very high amounts of antioxidants. A half-cup serving of red beans has more antioxidants than anything else you might choose to eat.

By Ramona French

 

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