Danielle Van Schaick BASc, RD, CPT
Registered Dietitian, Lead Dietitian
Foods high in antioxidants are regarded as the ‘superfoods’ of choice – the magic foods that will give us health and longevity! The best of them are found in fruits and vegetables, but what about these ‘superfoods’ we’ve been hearing about?
What are antioxidants? What are the benefits of antioxidants?
• Antioxidants are substances, or nutrients, in our foods that can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body.
• Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes and cancer are all contributed to by oxidative damage. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.
• Vitamins A, C, E and selenium are the most common antioxidants found in our food.
• Flavonoids, lycopene, lutein and lignin are antioxidants found in many of the superfoods.
Which foods are high in antioxidants?
Vitamins A & C are found in:
• Brightly colored vegetables: leafy greens like kale and spinach (but not iceberg lettuce), other green vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, red and yellow vegetables like tomatoes, red bell peppers, carrots and squash, and other things like beets.
• Fruits with lots of color: pink grapefruit, berries, oranges, plums, grapes, apricots, peaches. Even the dried forms of these fruits are good sources.
Vitamin E is found in:
• Nuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil
Selenium is found in:
• Fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.
What are some antioxidant superfoods?
Flavonoids / Polyphenols
purple grapes or Concord grapes
Tomato and tomato products
dark green vegetables; kale, spinach
How much of these foods do we need each day?
A minimum of 5 servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, PLUS a variety of antioxidant superfoods.
What about antioxidant supplements?
If you’re not getting enough of these foods in your diet, there are many antioxidant products and supplements available. Choose one from a reputable source and one that is produced from a range of plants and foods high in antioxidants, so you get a range of antioxidants. But remember, supplements never replace the real thing!
Dani Health & Nutrition
Danielle is a private practice dietitian with a strong background in health, nutrition and fitness. She holds an Applied Human Nutrition Degree from the University of Guelph and successfully completed a Dietetic Internship with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).