Food & Fitness

Foods rich in antioxidants

Although I know a fair amount about nutrition and general health and well-being, my knowledge of the chemistry behind it all is rather lacking. That’s why I asked Mr. Science (aka the boyfriend) to share his scientific knowledge of antioxidants with us last week.

citrus fruitsAntioxidants are talked about a lot, but why we need them isn’t discussed very often. I was particularly intrigued to learn more about them after reading this section in one of my nutrition diploma program course packs (emphasis my own):

Its high fat content makes the brain especially vulnerable to free-radical damage. Free-radicals… can wreak havoc in the body at the cellular level through oxidation… Compounds that prevent free-radical damage are called antioxidants or free-radical scavengers. Antioxidants are present naturally in whole foods.

You can read much more about this by checking out the guest post that Mr. Science wrote last week, all about the science of oxidants and antioxidants.

Antioxidants in the food we eat

Antioxidants are found in the micronutrients in our diet. These are the vitamins and minerals that we consume. Here are just a few of the micronutrients that are important antioxidants, as well as the foods that they are found abundantly in:

– Vitamin E: cold-pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

– Vitamin C: citrus fruits, berries, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, sweet peppers, papaya and sweet potatoes.

– Manganese: spinach, raspberries, nuts, whole grains and tea.

– Selenium: Brazil nuts, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, seafoods, garlic and onions.

plate of seafoodThere are so many more foods that are rich in antioxidants. Flavonoids, which are the water-soluble nutrients that give colour to fruits and vegetables, are also very potent antioxidants; good sources include apples, celery, berries, grapes, green and black tea, soy, buckwheat, onions, parsley and dark chocolate. Flavonoids are a type of phytochemical, and that means that they are part of a plant’s immune system and work to ward off disease. Phytochemicals are, for the most part, powerful antioxidants.

As you can see from the above lists, if we ultimately eat a balanced diet consisting primarily of whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible (preferably without the pesticides), we’ll be consuming antioxidants at just about every meal! And that is great news for the body.

Share your knowledge about antioxidants in the comments section below; feel free to add to the information here or to ask questions about any of it!

Resource: Alive Academy “Natural Health Fundamentals” course book.


  1. Myles

    Agree with your statement that we should eat whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. Taking supplements of isolated antioxidants may be counter productive and even harmful; I read somewhere, for example, that smokers who take beta carotene supplements actually have higher risk of getting lung cancer. I’m not really sure why, but that’s what researchers have found out.

  2. Adriana Vitamin Info

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