Vitamin C. Vitamin E. Beta-carotene. Major players in the antioxidant world. Antioxidants are positively-charged chemicals that combine with negatively charged molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are necessary for cellular development, but when too many form, they can damage DNA and other genetic material. Antioxidants might be considered the body’s cavalry, charging to the rescue of these cells that are coming under attack from the free radicals. Antioxidants serve to assist the body in fighting off diseases, and fortunately they are found naturally in many foods. They also contain certain properties which serve to kickstart the body’s immune system into overdrive, as well as reducing one’s risk for certain heart-related diseases and certain types of cancer.
Many foods are rich in antioxidants. Mangoes, for instance, are chock full of antioxidants, containing 57 milligrams of vitamin C, which is very close to the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C you need from all the food you eat. Besides vitamin C, mangoes also contain a wealth of vitamin E and beta-carotene. Still not interested in adding mangoes to your diet? Consider this fact: Mangoes are the only tropical fruit you can eat that will supply you with vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
If tropical fruit isn’t your thing, then how about sweet potatoes? Besides containing high amounts of beta-carotene and both vitamin C and vitamin E, another benefit of sweet potatoes is that they are low in calories. Eating just one to two sweet potatoes a day will come close to providing you with the recommended daily allowances of beta-carotene as well as both the vitamins, and it doesn’t matter whether you eat the yams with or without the skin. By preparing the sweet potatoes in the microwave, you can make sure you preserve all the nutrients.
Those leafy green vegetables your mom always told you should eat are another great source for antioxidants. Did you think that the food nutrition guidelines included healthy servings of vegetables today just to boost sales? Beta-carotene is soluble in fat, meaning that in order for it to be absorbed easily and effectively into your body, you need to ingest a little fat alongside it. Unfortunately, no hard and fast rules about how much fat you need to eat have yet been established, but research has shown it doesn’t need to be excessive.
Vitamin C has been proven to be effective in fighting off health problems ranging from cataracts to cancer. Unfortunately, vitamin C burns off quickly at high temperatures so when cooking such foods high in vitamin C as broccoli and red peppers, steaming or microwaving them works best for preserving their nutritional value.
Vitamin E is considered a top antioxidants because of its intense ability to help ward off diseases. The current recommended daily allowance is actually considered to be too low as far as offering much help in fighting off disease. Instead of the 8 to 10mg per day that is recommended, try to get at least 100mg a day. Vitamin E is prevalent in foods such as vegetable oils and nuts that are also high in fat content. The good news, however, is that you really don’t need to consume a massive amount in order to get your daily dose of Vitamin E. It can also be found in those leafy greens.
Although you can buy synthetic supplements to get your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E, keep in mind that most of them are nowhere near as potently effective as that which occurs naturally in foods.