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Antioxidants — are they really that good for you?
Saturday, 19 September · 2 min read

Antioxidants are said to have a range of health benefits. But what do we really know about them, and how true are these claims?

Antioxidants are thought to prevent damage to cells caused by unstable molecules in the body called 'free radicals'.

These molecules are released when your body processes oxygen, and if you have too many they can cause damage and even lead to certain diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some forms of cancer.

As antioxidants help to cancel out the effect of these molecules, they may also help to prevent these diseases. However, more research is needed.

Some common examples of antioxidants include:

  • vitamin A — found in liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk and egg yolks
  • vitamin C — found in oranges, peppers, kiwis, mangoes, broccoli
  • vitamin E — found in avocados, nuts, seeds and wholegrains
  • beta carotene — a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colourful vegetables
  • lycopene — the pigment that makes fruits red and pink, such as tomatoes, watermelons and pink grapefruit
  • lutein — found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, and corn

But it's not yet clear if it's the antioxidants in these foods that help to prevent these conditions or other factors.

For example, the benefits may also be linked to other nutrients in these foods, following a healthy and a balanced diet or other lifestyle factors.

Quote of the day

Health requires healthy food.

Roger Williams, physician

More good sources of antioxidants