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“Antioxidant superfoods” seem to be the latest buzzword that the food market loves to throw around, but the meaning of an antioxidant is still cloaked with ambiguity for the average person. So what are antioxidants exactly? Do they stop oxygen from working in your body? Instead of helping us, that actually sounds like it will do more harm than good, yikes! Fortunately, antioxidants actually plays  a vital role in your body as it helps protect your cells from highly reactive free radicals and other damages. Much like a protective coating used to prevent a car from rusting, antioxidants coat your cells to protect your body from the oxidative properties of free radicals, which can help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  

Where can I find antioxidants in food?

Luckily, antioxidants come from many different nutrient-rich foods. They are found predominantly in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. You can definitely get a wide spectrum of antioxidants if you include a variety of different colored vegetables and fruits in your diet. Vitamins C and E, beta carotene, flavonoids, and selenium all act as antioxidants in the human body. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, as it aids in iron absorption. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils (which also aid in the absorption of other antioxidants), avocado, nuts and seeds.  Beta carotene is present in bright orange produce, such as carrots, apricots, and sweet potatoes. Although flavonoids are a strange, exotic-sounding compound, they are commonly found in dark coloured berries, cocoa, green tea, and apples. Lastly, Selenium can be found in meat, fish, dairy products, and poultry. For vegans and vegetarians, you can opt for mushrooms, whole grains, nuts, or seeds so you won’t miss out on this important mineral.

Should I take supplements to ensure that I have enough antioxidants?    

Antioxidant supplements are not recommended, as they often contain a dosage that is much higher than necessary, and might interfere with absorption of other vital nutrients that your body needs. . As long as your diet is  rich in plant based foods, you should be getting all the antioxidants that you need! Moderation and variety (think rainbow) is key!