Antioxidant fruits include red, purple, and orange fruits, both fresh and dried (C.Cancler)
What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are beneficial substances found in food that help to neutralize “free radicals”, stop damaging chain-reactions caused by free radicals, and even repair cells damaged by free radicals.
What are free radicals? Free radicals are naturally occurring substances that are a normal by-product of bodily activities such as digestion and breathing! Free radicals are electrically charged oxygen molecules that are highly reactive and can start a chain-reaction that damages other cells in the body. In a normal healthy person eating a healthy diet, free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants.
What are the principle antioxidants? Some of the better known antioxidants include phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein; the vitamins A, C, and E; and the minerals selenium and zinc. Phytochemicals include over 5,000 components, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenols.
Antioxidant veggies include dark
green leafy vegetables and winter
What foods contain antioxidants? Antioxidants are abundant in many fruits and vegetables, dried beans, spices, nuts, whole grains, as well as some meats, poultry, and fish. Lists in popular media often list just 10-20 top foods, but there are many, many more than that. In Seattle farmers markets, there are locally grown and available foods high in antioxidants available throughout the year. Good food sources of antioxidants include the following foods which are found seasonally in Seattle farmers markets from our local farmers.
- Red or purple fruits and vegetables (for example, red fruits such as raspberries and plums, red vegetables such as tomatoes and red peppers, and dried red or pink beans such as kidney beans or pinto beans)
- Orange fruits and vegetables (for example, orange fruits such as apricots and orange vegetables such as carrots and winter squash)
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, romaine, dark green or red leaf lettuce, and herbs such as parsley and oregano.
- Black foods (such as black beans)
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Onions, including onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots
- Nuts such as hazelnuts
- Whole grains
Dried beans and whole grains are also
high in antioxidants (C.Cancler)
There are other high anti-oxidant foods that are not locally grown including oranges and other citrus fruits, chocolate or cocoa bean, and spices such as cinnamon and cloves. For a list of the antioxidant capacities of 277 foods from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, visit the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods – 2007 database. ORAC is one of a number of methods available to evaluate the antioxidant capacities of foods.
Are antioxidant supplements recommended over food sources? Current research using antioxidant vitamin supplements is inconclusive; therefore dietary sources are recommended over nutritional supplements. The National Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association recommend that people eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods daily from all the basic food groups.