Appointments

866.320.4573

Request an Appointment

Questions

800.223.2273

Contact us with Questions

Expand Content

Anti-Oxidants

I've been hearing a lot about antioxidants lately and I know that they're good for you. I'm wondering exactly how they work and what diseases they help with.

Within our bodies millions of processes occur every day, such as turning the foods we eat into energy. These processes require oxygen. Byproducts of using oxygen are called oxidants, often referred to as "free radicals". Free radicals can also be introduced to our bodies through external sources such as tobacco smoke, pollution, and exposure to the sun. In the same way that oxidation can cause rust on the surface of some objects, free radicals can cause damage to cell walls, cell structures and even the genetic material of a cell. If the genetic material of a cell is attacked, this can lead to changes in the body's DNA "genetic blue print" and has been linked to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

Antioxidants work to deactivate free radicals by binding to oxidants. Thus, preventing the damage of the free radicals from occurring. Research studying the impact of supplementing the diet with antioxidant-rich vitamins (like vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium) have come up short, but diets high in antioxidant-rich foods have been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. As a result, current national guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease recommend choosing foods rich in antioxidants versus taking supplements. Below is a list of the best food sources of the important antioxidant nutrients. You should aim for a total of 5–9 servings of these foods every day.

Antioxidant Good Food Sources
Vitamin C Citrus fruits and their juices, berries, dark green vegetables red and yellow peppers, tomatoes and tomato juice, pineapple, cantaloupe, mangos, papaya and guava.
Vitamin E Vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, corn, cottonseed and safflower, nuts and nut butters, seeds, whole grains, wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas) and dark leafy green vegetables.
Selenium Brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains, most vegetables.
Beta Carotene Variety of dark orange, red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangos.

For more information on a heart-healthy diet plan, please contact:

Reviewed: 12/13

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2014 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic

Read the Latest from Our Experts About cctopics » Heart & Vascular Health
High Blood Pressure? Don’t Take Vitamin D for It (Video)
11/20/14 8:31 a.m.
Sellers of vitamin D claim the nutrient can lower your blood pressure. But don’t believe the hype. Despite claims from the nutrition industry and non-medical personnel abou...
by Steven Nissen, MD
When Your Heart Stents Narrow, Brachytherapy Can Help
11/19/14 8:22 a.m.
Cardiac stents are an effective, nonsurgical way of holding a narrowed or blocked artery open to increase blood...
A Post ER Follow-Up Could Save Your Life
11/17/14 8:39 a.m.
Even if Emergency Room doctors say you didn’t actually have a heart attack, that doesn’t mean you h...
Recipe: Low-Fat Crunchy Pumpkin Pie
11/14/14 7:00 a.m.
This low-fat crunchy pumpkin pie uses only a small amount of oil in the crust and skim milk in the filling to m...
Varicose Veins: Not Just an Older Woman’s Problem
11/13/14 8:13 a.m.
You might think of varicose veins as an older woman’s problem, but it may actually have more to do with your li...