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Antioxidants are vitamins and nutrients that are found in foods and have been found to be very beneficial to the body; the most common antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Antioxidants have been show to prevent and reverse cell damage caused by free radicals and pollutants in the environment; this means that antioxidant foods have the potential benefit to slow the aging process, prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's, boost the immune system, and reduce blood pressure, among other benefits. The best way to get antioxidants into the body is to eat a diet rich in antioxidant foods.
In general, the best antioxidant foods are whole, natural, minimally processed foods. This does not mean that the foods cannot be cooked and enjoyed, but simply that it is better to purchase these foods whole rather than in processed packages with lots of additives and preservatives. Minimal cooking process, such as quick steaming, helps food to retain more of its beneficial nutrients. The foods richest in antioxidants come from the fruit, vegetable, legume, and whole grain families.
Fruits are particularly great antioxidant foods, especially berries. Blueberries are considered to be one of the most antioxidant rich foods that one can eat, but other berries such as cranberries, strawberries, or raspberries are high in antioxidants as well. Other fruits that are often recommended for their antioxidant content include oranges, pomegranates, grapes, apples, and cantaloupes, just to name a few.
Vegetables can also be high in antioxidants. Some of the best include leafy greens such as spinach and kale, as well as brightly colored vegetables such as carrots and peppers. Broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, artichokes, and sweet potatoes are also excellent antioxidant foods. Beans, legumes, and whole grains are also great antioxidant foods that contain high levels of these important nutrients.
These are only a few of the many foods that contain beneficial antioxidants. Spices such as garlic and ginger also contain antioxidants, and green tea is a great source of antioxidants as well if one is looking for a beneficial beverage. Try to incorporate at least some of these healthy foods into the diet every day for a healthy boost, and try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Cutting back on snacks such as chips or cookies and replacing them with antioxidant foods can make a big difference for one's health, and not just because it can lead to weight loss.
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