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7 antioxidants your body needs (and how to get them naturally)

7 antioxidants your body needs (and how to get them naturally)

It is important to consume foods rich in antioxidants to prevent health complications and lead a healthy life.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : March 24, 2015 5:37 PM IST

Antioxidants are compounds that play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules produced due to breakdown of food, smoking and alcohol consumption, which in turn attack healthy cells, thereby increasing your risk of various diseases such as cancer. Hence, it is important to consume foods rich in antioxidants to prevent health complications and lead a healthy life. Dr Kedar N. Prasad, Ph.D, former president of the International Society of Nutrition and Cancer, in his book Fight Heart Disease with Vitamins and Antioxidants sheds light on dietary antioxidants and its food sources. Here s an expert from the book.

Book cover pageAs we know, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as carotenoids and the mineral selenium, are exogenous antioxidants that are also referred to as standard dietary antioxidants, because they are commonly consumed through diet (or used in a multivitamin preparation). Other types of exogenous antioxidants include various kinds of polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs. (Some of these polyphenols are often added to a multivitamin preparation in small quantities.) We will discuss sources of standard dietary antioxidants next, detailing how one may obtain them from one s diet.

Vitamin A

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Liver from beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and fish is the richest source of vitamin A (6.5 mg of vitamin A per 100 grams of liver). Vitamin A is also found in sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, and squash, as well as in melons, peppers, tuna, and apricots. Here are 5 more reasons why you should eat foods rich in Vitamin A.

B vitamins

Sources of B vitamins include: Brewer s yeast, cereals, milk, leafy vegetables, liver, and intestinal bacteria.

Vitamin C

The richest dietary sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. They include rose hips, red peppers, parsley, guava, kiwi fruit, broccoli, lychee, papaya, and strawberries. Each of these fruits or vegetables contains approximately 2,000 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. Other sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, melon, garlic, cauliflower, grapefruit, raspberries, tangerines, passion fruit, spinach, and limes. They contain about 30 to 50 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruits and vegetables. Read about 15 ways Vitamin C keeps you healthy and fit!

Carotenoids/Beta-carotene

The richest sources of carotenoids are sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, mangoes, cantaloupes, apricots, kale, broccoli, parsley, cilantro, pumpkins, winter squash, and fresh thyme, however, there are more than six hundred carotenoids in various plants, fruits, and vegetables. Among them, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, xanthophylls, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin are significant. (We do not know much about many of the other carotenoids.) Beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, and lutein have been studied extensively in laboratory experiments and in humans. Here are 10 natural remedies to strengthen your immune system.

Vitamin E

The richest sources of vitamin E include wheat germ oil (215 mg per 100 of grams of oil), sunflower seed oil (56 mg per 100 grams of oil), olive oil (12 mg per 100 grams of oil), almond oil (39 mg per 100 grams of oil), hazelnut oil (26 mg per 100 grams of oil), walnut oil (20 mg per 100 grams of oil), and peanut oil (17 mg per 100 grams of oil). Sources for small amounts of vitamin E (0.1 to 2 mg per 100 grams) include kiwi fruit, fish, leafy vegetables, and whole grains. In the United States, fortified breakfast cereals are very good sources of vitamin E.

At present, most of the natural form of vitamin E is extracted from vegetable oils, primarily soybean oil. Vitamin E exists in eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- tocotrienol). Of these, alpha-tocopherol has the most biological activity. Vitamin E also exists in the natural form, commonly indicated as d. The synthetic form is referred to as 'dl.' The stable esterified form of vitamin E is available as alpha-tocopheryl acetate, alpha-tocopheryl succinate, and alpha-tocopheryl nicotinate.

L-carnitine

L-carnitine is made in the body, but we can also obtain it from our diet. The highest concentration of L-carnitine is found in red meat (95 mg per 3.0 ounces of meat). In contrast, chicken breast has only 3.9 mg per 3.5 ounces. L-carnitine is present in all cells of the body.

Polyphenols

As mentioned previously, polyphenols are present in herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Examples of them include resveratrol (found in grape skin and seeds), curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), ginseng extract, cinnamon extract, and garlic extract. Resveratrol in particular has drawn a great deal of attention in recent years; it is found in grape skin and grape seed. As we've learned, other polyphenols include tannins, lignins, and flavonoids. Major sources of flavonoids include all of the citrus fruits, berries, ginkgo biloba, onions, parsley, tea, red wine, and dark chocolate. Over five thousand naturally occurring flavonoids have been characterized from various plants. Did you know these 8 foods that help you detox naturally?

Fight Heart Disease with Vitamins and Antioxidants is authored by Dr Kedar N. Prasad and published by Healing Arts Press and distributed by Simon and Schuster India.Click here to buy the book.

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