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The Power of Antioxidants

The Power of Antioxidants

Many of us have heard about antioxidants, and that they are good for us. But what are they, and what is their real value in fighting health issues including cancer? Healthline defines them as “molecules that fight free radicals in your body.” Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But some amount of free radicals are necessary. For example, our immune system uses them to fight infections, so it is important to strike a balance.

Although our bodies make certain antioxidants to help get rid of free radicals, we can boost our levels of them by eating foods that are rich in these helpful molecules. Fruits are often high in vitally essential antioxidants called vitamins C and E. You especially want to boost your levels if you smoke or are exposed to radiation, such as during proton therapy.

So what are the best sources of antioxidants? “Berries, green tea, coffee, and dark chocolate are renowned for being good sources,” according to Healthline. However, all sources of plant and animal foods contain some level of antioxidants. Because many foods that contain antioxidants also contain other healthful compounds, getting the molecules through food is better than using supplements. In fact, you can reach toxic levels of antioxidants and should therefore not take high doses of supplements, though low doses should be fine. We recommend checking in with your physician before making changes to diet or supplement intake if you’re actively undergoing treatment for cancer or another medical issue, just to be safe.

Here is a list foods highest in antioxidants (and other sources of goodness).

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Artichokes
  • Goji berries
  • Raspberries
  • Kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Beans, such as pinto and broad green beans
  • Beets
  • Spinach

Of the list above, beans and goji berries seem to be especially good at reducing cancer risk.

Read more details about antioxidants, free radicals and the benefits of a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained#what-they-are