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What is the Hype Around Antioxidants?

Have you heard the word antioxidant roaming around? It’s for good reason!

Free radicals are a normal by-product of energy production that happens in the body from metabolizing food and exercising. We also can acquire free radicals from stress, pollution, sunlight exposure, smoking, etc.The buildup of too many free radicals in the body can damage your tissues and lead to negative effects (illness, aging, etc.).

A daily consumption of antioxidants from food is a positive way to reduce the amount of free radical damage that can be produced from daily stressors, pollution, food metabolism, exercise, etc. These antioxidants are the protectors of our cells! If we are low in antioxidants, our cells are exposed to oxidation which leads to disease.

Antioxidants are found in nutrients such as:

Vitamin C - water-soluble vitamin found in:

Citrus fruits, Red/Orange/Yellow peppers, Plums, Broccoli, Strawberries, Sweet potato, Cantaloupe, Parsley, Kale, Kiwi, Papaya, etc. (1).

Vitamin E - fat-soluble vitamin found in:

Avocados, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Wheat germ oil (no heat), Pine nuts, Red sweet peppers, Sunflower oil, Mamey Sapote, Mango, etc. (2).

Selenium - a mineral found in:

Brazil nuts, Tuna, Eggs, Sunflower seeds, Brown rice, Lentils, Cottage cheese, Sardines, Shrimp, Salmon, Oysters, Beef, etc. (3).

Carotenoids - red, orange, & yellow pigments found in plants and algae such as:

Tomatoes, Pumpkin, Grapefruit, Mango, Carrots, Pomegranates, Peppers, Kale, Spinach, Eggs (yolks), etc. (4).

“Specifically, 45% of the U.S. population had a prevalence of inadequacy for vitamin A, 46% for vitamin C, 95% for vitamin D, 84% for vitamin E, and 15% for zinc“ (5).

Food sources are the best recommended way of getting in your antioxidants since there is less likelihood of developing toxicity and it has shown to have positive effects on health. Meanwhile, antioxidant supplements can be beneficial to fill in the gaps where diet may lack. The sourcing, quality and research of the supplement is extremely important.

My favorite supplements to help increase antioxidant levels for disease prevention:

Overall, your goal should be to eat a variety of different colored fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds, omega-3 rich oils, fish, legumes, etc. in your daily life to get in these antioxidants!

Tips to increase consumption of antioxidants:

- Try a new fruit or vegetable every week or month

- Build a colorful plate

- Change up your meals/snacks every now and then... such as:

  • Carrots/bell peppers/broccoli with hummus

  • Salmon kale salad with pomegranates, apples, and sunflower seeds

  • Colorful fruit salad with lime juice and handful of nuts

  • Mango avocado salsa with cilantro

  • Get creative!

I hope this article was helpful and can show that adding in small nutrient dense foods throughout your day can make a big impact!

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