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Antioxidants: What You Need to Know

Where Antioxidants Are Found

Although research may look promising, particularly with regard to vitamin E, food remains the smart choice for where to obtain your antioxidants. Studies consistently demonstrate that for optimum health, you should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday as part of a balanced diet. Below is a list of where to find specific antioxidants. If you are interested in taking antioxidant supplements, talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

  • Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, seeds, olives, avocado, wheat germ, liver, and leafy green vegetables.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • For good sources of vitamin C, look to citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruit), broccoli, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cantaloupe, and strawberries.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • Common sources of beta-carotene include cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, peppers, spinach, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • You can find selenium in seafood, beef, pork, chicken, Brazil nuts, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

Phytochemicals are found in a variety of sources. Some phytochemicals that are currently under study for their antioxidant activity and ability to reduce disease risk are listed below.

Food source
Allyl sulfides
Onions, garlic, leeks, chives
Carotenoids (e.g., lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin)
Tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, kale, spinach
Flavonoids (e.g., anthocyanins, resveratrol, quercitin, catechins)
Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, grapefruit, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries
Green leafy vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy
Isoflavones (e.g., genistein, daidzeins)
Legumes (peas, soybeans)
Isothiocyanates (e.g., sulforaphane)
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy
Seeds (flax seeds, sunflower seeds)
Citrus fruit peels, cherries, nuts
Phytic acid
Whole grains, legumes
Phenols, polyphenols, phenolic compounds (e.g., ellagic acid, ferulic acid, tannins)
Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, grapefruit, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, tea
Beans, legumes

Of course, in addition to eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and abstaining from tobacco use are critical to a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on antioxidants and related topics, check out the links on the next page.