Antioxidants are our invisible powerful protectors and saviors, which neutralize the action of free radicals by donating lacking electrons and by restoring the chemical reactions in the body cells. That means, in effect, that they prolong our youth, support our health and protect our bodies from cancer.
Scientists and researches already know that there are specific products that naturally have strong antioxidant properties. The most powerful are Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, Lycopene, Tannins and Anthocyanins which we receive with food.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which donates a hydrogen atom and forms a stable ascorbyl-free radical. Our best food sources of vitamin C have a single thing in common: they are all plant foods. Even though many animals make vitamin C in their bodies, only plants make it to the degree that they provide a rich source of the nutrient when eaten.
Probably most of us associate citrus fruits with vitamin C. This is not a myth—all of the citrus fruits, and, especially, orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon, are excellent sources of vitamin C. However, many non-citrus fruits are highly rated sources, as well. Papaya, strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and raspberries are excellent vitamin C sources. Cranberries, blueberries, and watermelons are examples of very good sources, while apples, pears, and bananas are also good but do not provide such a rich source of vitamin C.
Vitamin E may prevent coronary heart disease, build up the immune body function, prevent various types of inflammation and even lower the risk of cancer. Some of the best natural sources of Vitamin E are: sunflower seeds, almonds, plant oils, avocados, spinach, Swiss chard, butternut squash. beet greens and trout.
Beta Carotene protects our bodies against cancer and aging. Natural food sources that are high in beta carotene are: sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, dark leafy greens, butternut squash, cantaloupe, lettuce, red bell peppers, apricots and peas.
Lycopene is a carotenoid − a natural pigment that gives some vegetables and fruits their red color. It is a strong antioxidant and can help protect the body against various types of cancer. Lycopene also protects us from sunburns, balances cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease. The best natural sources of Lycopene are tomatoes (provide about 80% of the lycopene in the US diet), guava, watermelons, papaya, pink grapefruit, red peppers.
Tannins possess anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties as well as antimicrobial properties. Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. Some of the most common sources of tannins are teas, coffee, pomegranates, persimmons, most berries (cranberries, strawberries, blueberries), grapes, red wine, chocolate (with cocoa content 70% and higher) and spices (cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, thyme).
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. They are naturally formed in a number of foods and give red, purple, and blue plants their rich coloring. In herbal medicine, anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat high blood pressure, as well as colds and urinary infections. The best natural sources of this antioxidant are black raspberries, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, black plums, red radish, red raspberries.
What are your favorite sources of antioxidants?