Everyone has heard of antioxidants and their health benefits, but what are they? They are components that are found naturally in many foods, such as vegetables, fruit, berries and cocoa. Some well-known antioxidants are beta-carotene (vitamin A), lycopene that is found in tomatoes, and flavanols that are found in chocolate. They prevent damage to the body from free radicals, substances that are thought contribute to diseases such as heart disease and some types of cancer.
Many healthcare professionals and nutritionists recommend getting your antioxidants mainly from food. Eat lots of different varieties of fruit and vegetables, fresh and dried herbs, and berries such as blueberries and raspberries. Red wine, coffee and tea also contain antioxidants and so does raw or dark chocolate.
You can also find a wide variety of antioxidant supplements on the market. It is best to talk to a health professional or a qualified nutritionist before taking large doses of these supplements for a long period of time, as this could affect the body’s own immune system. There are also differences in the quality of supplements, so if you are going to take antioxidants, make sure they are labeled ‘pharmaceutical grade’ to get the highest quality and strength.