Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Truth About Antioxidants

This is adapted from a speech I gave to the National Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences, May 2007. Hope it helps you too!

A big myth out there is that supplements can supply anti-aging antioxidants. Not so! The truth is that only food can supply your body with antioxidants.

First, a little background about antioxidants: oxidants, or free radicals, are produced when food is converted to energy. But it’s not that simple - smoking, sun damage, pollution, poor eating habits and inactivity speed up the production of oxidants. All these oxidants result in damaged cells and aging. That’s where antioxidants come in! They slow down cell damage and aging caused by oxidants – not to mention the progression of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons and improve organ, skin, eye, teeth and gum health.

Sounds pretty great, huh? So, what foods have antioxidants?

Vitamin A: liver, milk, egg yolks, fish, cheese.

Carotenoids (lycopene, beta carotene): dark colored fruit and vegetables – prunes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, mangoes, collard greens, spinach, kale

Vitamin C: fruits and vegetables

Vitamin E: vegetable oils, nuts, seeds (flax), whole grains, avocado, legumes, oily fish, eggs, dairy

Selenium: brown rice, eggs, whole grains, meat, whole wheat bread, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, garlic

Polyphenols (resveratrol, flavonoids): tea, coffee, soy, legumes, fruit, dark chocolate, red wine

Lutein: collard greens, spinach, kale, eggs, corn, citrus

Sulfides: broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, collards, garlic, onions, leeks, scallions