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Food Trends: Anti- oxi – what?

About ten years ago I had a routine check up with my doctor.  I got a call two weeks later from my physician telling me to make an appointment ASAP because I had an irregular test and needed to get some biopsies.  At the time I was in my mid twenties and pretty scared so I called my closest friend, along with my boyfriend (now husband).  My boyfriend was real supportive, although he wasn’t sure what quite to do to reassure me that everything would be okay.  My dear friend, also a dietitian, called me and said “what can I do for you, do you want me to bring you some tomato sauce?”  I will forever remember this comment and she doesn’t have a clue how this made me laugh as I endured testing every three months years after to insure I did not develop Cancer.

Most who are not as geeky as I may wonder why in the world that is so funny to me.  Tomatoes are known to have lycopene in them which are considered to be an antioxidant and antioxidants are suspected to prevent cancers, coronary heart disease, aging and many other chronic conditions. But really though, what in the heck are antioxidants? 

Antioxidants inhibit the process of oxidation.  Oxidation is a naturally occurring process that results from the burning of oxygen.  Some examples that increase the oxidative process are excessive sunlight exposure, alcohol, smoking, pesticides, and stress. These examples along with the oxidation process create free radicals.  Free radicals suck the life out of you, causing damage to cells by stealing electrons from cells and causing damage and eventually death.  This is when your antioxidants come into play.  The ever so nice antioxidants lend that electron your free radicals are searching for to prevent damage. 

Examples of antioxidants are below:


Antioxidant Name
Color
Sources
Beta Carotene
Orange
Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Cantaloupe, Mangos
Lycopene
Red
Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce
Selenium
Multiple colors
Meats, Breads, Brazil Nuts
Vitamin A
Multiple colors
Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Milk, Egg Yolk, Mozzarella Cheese
Vitamin C
Multiple colors
Fruits, Vegetables, Cereal, Beef, Poultry, Fish
Vitamin E
Multiple colors
Wheat Germ, Safflower Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Mangos, Nuts, Broccoli


I hope this helps break down what an antioxidant is and why it’s important.  Good luck integrating these foods into your diet and be well!

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