Expert Health Articles

The Power of Antioxidants

Living a healthy lifestyle seems to be getting more popular these days, especially now during the current pandemic in which we are living. Exercising and eating a balanced diet are just two pieces of a healthy lifestyle. When striving to eat a balanced diet, it is vital to consume foods containing antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances that can protect your body against cancer, heart disease and various other diseases by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals found in your body are a result of activities, including digestion (when food gets turned into energy) and exposure to dangerous chemicals (such as pollution, X-rays, and cigarette smoke). Since antioxidants help neutralize free radical activity in the body, an imbalance of free radicals to antioxidants can harm the body. If there is a larger number of free radicals than antioxidants in your body, your body will enter what is called “oxidative stress.” During oxidative stress, DNA, proteins and fat-forming cells are damaged and may lead to cancer, heart disease and various other diseases and infections.

To improve the balance between free radicals and antioxidants, strive to increase antioxidant food sources. Fruits and vegetables are the best first choice when trying to consume antioxidants. Foods such as broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, raspberries, mangoes, kiwi, avocado and blueberries are very rich in antioxidants and fight against free radicals. Legumes and nuts are other sources to consider. Antioxidants may be found in supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea and selenium, but consider food sources before supplementation to receive all the other nutrients they can provide. 

Strive for eating 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables daily, and about 1-2 serving per day of legumes and nuts to help your body remain healthy and out of oxidative stress.

Written by Marcie Jacob, Bluffton University dietetic intern working under the supervision of Rachel Niermann, Registered Dietitian (RDN,LD) 

Outpatient Oncology & Community Wellness

Armes Family Cancer Care Center