Antioxidants are chemical substances in many foods. Antioxidants protect the body's cells and tissues from free radicals, which are made when our bodies use oxygen. Free radicals can damage cells, which may lead to cancer. Antioxidants are thought to help protect cells by removing free radicals before they cause damage.
Certain vitamins and minerals found in many foods, especially vegetables and fruit, act as antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and selenium are antioxidants. It is best to choose foods with these vitamins and minerals, rather than take vitamin and mineral supplements (pills). Researchers say that it may not be only the vitamins and minerals that help protect against cancer but the special forms of these vitamins or minerals in foods or their combination with other substances in foods.
Sources of common antioxidants
orange-coloured foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin, peaches and mangoes
some green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
|vitamin A (retinol)
||many vegetables and citrus fruits such as broccoli, tomatoes, oranges and grapefruit
nuts and seeds
many oils such as safflower, corn and soybean
mangoes, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes
| green leafy vegetables like collard greens, spinach and kale
tomatoes and tomato products (such as tomato juice and tomato sauce)
rice and grain products such as wheat germ and wheat bran
chicken and fish
*Beta carotene, lutein and lycopene are carotenoids. Carotenoids are compounds that also have antioxidant benefits.
It’s a good idea to eat a variety of foods that contain antioxidants. Make sure to eat a variety of vegetables and fruit daily to get the best mix of antioxidants. (The recommended number of servings per day is different depending on your age, sex and how active you are).