11 November 2011

The Antioxidant Craze

Have you noticed how everything nowadays evolves around antioxidants? There seems to be some "antioxidant" craze among healthy-living people around the world. And no wonder, because antioxidants have proven to protect your body against the effects of free radicals, which damage cells and contribute to many different diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer and others.

Photo: jcoterhals
Free radicals
Free radicals can damage your cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage which is closely related to free radical damage. Antioxidants can slow down the oxidative damage to your body and may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

But here is the news - antioxidants are nothing new - we used to call them vitamins and minerals before. Don't you believe me? here is a list of the most common antioxidants:

Most common antioxidants
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
  • Selenium

Apart from vitamins, phytochemicals are the other powerful antioxidating agents:

Most common phytochemicals
Flavonoids / polyphenols
  • soy
  • red wine
  • grapes
  • pomegranate
  • cranberries
  • tea

  • tomato and tomato products
  • pink grapefruit
  • watermelon

  • dark green vegetables: kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels sprout and spinach

  • flax seed
  • oatmeal
  • barley
  • rye

But regardless of what you call them, one thing is sure - eating foods high in antioxidants is good for your health! Having that in mind, recent research has shown that unlike Europeans, Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables and the ones they are most often choosing - potatoes (in the form of French Fries), tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, bananas and orange juice - are far from enough to prevent disease, cancer and slow aging of cells.

Not only it is vital to include a good amount of antioxidant foods in your diet but to increase the health benefits of antioxidant intake you need a good variety of antioxidants because each prevents some of the worst diseases of our era - inflammation, cancer, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia.

But don't get too concentrated in antioxidants alone. It is when they are combined with other nutrients that they become such powerful disease preventing agents. And the best way to get better health for the rest of your life is to start a sensible, healthy and diverse diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables that will supply your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
How do you ensure a healthy diet rich in antioxidants? Share with us in the comments, so we can learn from each other!


  1. The hardest part for me is convincing my husband that ketchup isn't a vegetable!

    My family prefers raw vegetables to cooked, so I've stopped pushing the cooked variety and make sure I always have a big plate of fresh raw veggies in the fridge. If they can "grab them and go" they are more likely to choose healthy over junk food.

  2. When living in Canada, my husband was diagnosed with food intolerances to the point of almost having nothing he COULD eat. The naturopath who found it out, put him on a stringent diet, introducing stuff gradually, so we found out exactly what was the problem. He also suggested that one never repeated the same ingredients in the main meal each day - i.e. beef all the time, etc. We picked up on that and now eat a different meat every day, together with plenty of different vegetables, and fruit. He's still going!

  3. Laurie, I laughed out loud when I read about ketchup! It is obsolete in our house to the same level as Coca-Cola. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great! We have salad with all our dinners.

    Isobel, I can imagine what life-changing experience that was for you! On the other hand I see it as enlightening, because it has given you chance to start a healthier lifestyle!

  4. I try to eat 90% fresh fruits, raw veggies, grains, and soy. Only 10% of dairy or meat during the week.
    When I first started eating this way, I was amazed at how better I felt within a few days. I no longer wake up with headaches. I have not had a migraine in 6 years! I have more energy and I am rarely sick.

  5. Sandy, you are so right! I have noticed the same - when I don't eat meat I feel much better, and that is not only in the warm summer months :) One thing I must admit is that apart from the great amount of fruits and vegetables we eat at home, we also eat much homemade yogurt, which is way healthier than store-bought!

  6. Great post Sonya! That's one thing I've noticed, growing up in Canada and traveling Europe a bit, the eating habits are quite different from here in the US...at least around where we live on the West Coast.

    I try really hard to feed myself & my family as much "fresh" anything as we can get...so much better for you. There is WAY too much pre-packaged foods and the objective to eat fast...I've never understood that one...eating a pleasure, it shouldn't be rushed!!

  7. I was just making a big shopping list, I will have to make some changes to it after this great reminder post:)) Although we "know" these things, I think it's great to be reminded of them- that way they become harder to ignore;)

  8. Great post with lot of useful information:)

  9. Meeling, I don't believe too many people actually eat for pleasure but I am glad I don't know many of them! I take great pleasure in eating AND in cooking, :) You are right though, eating slowly is the only way we can enjoy food.

    Magda, yes indeed, we know but as you say, reminding ourselves is very useful!

  10. Very informative, thank you!!

  11. Haha, I eat at least one thing from each of those common phytochemical groups! :) I guess when you're a vegan it's hard not to. ;)

  12. It's good that you're getting the word out. I could write a book on this subject! A lot of what people eat are "edible food-like substances," according to Michael Pollan. (Here's his website with a list of books he's written.
    I eats lots of fruits and vegetables and grains.

    I'm adding a comment because of your remark above about eating yogurt. We all need to eat some cultured food. Most cultures have their favorites such as sauerkraut.

    I hope you continue to post on this subject!