antioxidantsRecently James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for cracking the DNA code with Francis Crick in 1962, said that antioxidants may actually cause cancer instead of fighting it. It may also interfere with the efficient working of cancer therapy. This finding is in contrast to the fact that antioxidants actually help in beating cancer and repairing the damage caused due to stress and other lifestyle factors.

With all this contrasting information, it is important to understand what antioxidants are and their sources.

What do antioxidants do?

‘Free radicals’ are formed in our body when we get exposed to environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and pesticides. Once formed, they can cause damage to our body. Antioxidants are those compounds found in nature that can prevent the damage caused due to free radicals.

Sources of antioxidants:

Various pigments such as phytoestrogen, caretenoid, carotenoids, non-flavanoids  found commonly in fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants.  Some antioxidants and their sources are as below:

Antioxidant

Fruit source

Vegetable source

Vitamin C

Citrus fruits and their juices

Tomatoes and tomato juice, pineapple, mangos, papaya and guava.

Dark green vegetables like spinach (palak), capsicum, broccoli and other greens.

 

Vitamin E

Vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, corn, safflower oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds, whole grains, wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas)

Dark leafy green vegetables.

 

Selenium

Brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, seafood, and whole grains

Most vegetables.

Beta Carotene

Fruits such as apricots, and mangos.

Variety of dark orange, red, yellow and green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers

Tip: The darker the fruit or vegetable is, the higher the antioxidant content.

Diet for high antioxidant content :

In order to maximize your antioxidant intake, make sure you eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. This roughly translates into one serving of a salad, two servings of cooked vegetables and at least two fruits in a day. Another good source of antioxidant is soyabean. Include them into your meal at least two three times a week to get the maximum benefit.

According to Shilpa Mittal, expert nutritionist and dietician, eating the right kinds of food at the right time is essential to gaining the maximum benefit. If you include these simple foods with antioxidants into your diet, you should be on the right track to healthier living.