The health benefits of antioxidants

Antioxidants are largely found in fruits and vegetables. They help optimize health by fighting free radicals found in the body which can cause damage to cells as well as DNA. Consuming antioxidants may prevent cell damage as well as oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system. Additionally, they may help improve brain health and nervous system health.

Daily Recommendations
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate recommends making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. The average American should get 2 cups of fruit a day and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables in order to meet fiber, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant needs.

Antioxidant Facts
Coffee is the #1 Source of antioxidants in the American diet, however, the health benefits of antioxidants ultimately comes down to how the food is absorbed, making fruits and vegetables nutritionally superior to coffee. A photo of 5 ways to add antioxidants to your diet

Dark chocolate is also an excellent source of flavonoids, an antioxidant which can have anti-inflammatory benefits

There are three major antioxidant vitamins: Beta Carotene (vitamin A) found in foods such as apricots, asparagus, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C found in foods such as citrus, berries, broccoli, cantaloupe, grapefruit and peppers. Vitamin E found in chard, turnip greens, mangos, nuts, and papaya among others.

Nuts, beans, whole grains, oysters, beef and poultry are all additional sources of antioxidants.

Supplements are available, but the best source of antioxidants is through eating a balanced diet with whole foods. If you are not sure if you need a supplement, ask a dietitian.

5 easy ways to add antioxidants to your diet
1. Put a bowl of fresh berries or chopped veggies out to snack on when you need a little boost of energy to get through your fun summer activities.

2. Add a few more vegetables to your typical salad, maybe include broccoli or carrots.

3. Dip strawberries, or your favorite fruit in dark chocolate for a delicious snack.

4. Enjoy a healthy refreshing smoothie in the morning or after exercise. You can be very creative when adding fruits and vegetables to make an antioxidant filled drink.

5. Antioxidant filled berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are a healthy way to add plenty of red and blue to your Fourth of July recipes, like these popsicles.

For more nutrition facts, visit the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center’s website, as well as the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board.