You've probably heard the term "antioxidant" connected with preventing disease and slowing the physical effects of aging. Antioxidants are substances found in food that destroy free radicals -- chemically unstable compounds that damage cells in the body. Cell damage is the cause of many signs of aging, including wrinkles, lines and sagging skin. It can also lead to cancer [source: National Cancer Institute]. Research has not concluded that antioxidants can truly slow or prevent the development of cancer, but some of the evidence looks promising.
Antioxidants are readily available in the foods you eat on a regular basis -- or, in any case, the foods you know you should eat on a regular basis. You know what this means: When Mom made you eat your broccoli or put carrot sticks in your lunch box instead of potato chips, she was making sure you got your antioxidants.
Every time you eat fruits and vegetables, you are taking in antioxidants. The same is true when you choose whole-grain bread over white bread made with refined flour. Vitamin C, lycopene and beta-carotene are all antioxidants, and they are all found in foods that are readily available in your grocery store. Tomatoes, pomegranates, leafy green vegetables, berries, grapes and citrus fruits are a few excellent sources. Whole grains and nuts are also good sources of antioxidants, especially selenium and vitamin E [source: National Cancer Institute].
Of course, when you think "anti-aging," you probably think of having healthy, young-looking skin. Read on to learn what vitamins specifically benefit the skin, and some common foods that contain these important chemicals.