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Free Radicals And Antioxidants

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Ever heard of free radicals and antioxidants? I hadn't really until recently and now I talk about them all the time. Put simply, free radicals are “bad” molecules in the body that are highly reactive and can cause damage to your cells. This damage can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts and premature ageing. Antioxidants are the “good” molecules that essentially mop up free radicals, they help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods and are produced by the body.

Many things, like excessive exercise for example, can produce free radicals, as they are formed when the cells make energy and also when the body is exposed to pollution, sunlight, smoking or radiation. Now you're probably thinking “but I'm exposed to these things all the time”. The body requires a certain level of free radicals as they play an important role in cell signalling and the immune system, however if you live in a big city, smoke, are an athlete or tan a lot, your body could be overwhelmed by free radicals and this is where it becomes dangerous. Your body might need a bit more antioxidant support.

Antioxidants work together so it seems better to consume a combination of sources rather than supplement just one.

Antioxidant sources

Antioxidants can be found in many nutrients such as:

Vitamin E

Vegetable oils (corn, soybean, sunflower), margarine, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, whole grains, cereals, fruits, eggs, poultry, meat

Vitamin C

Cantaloupe, citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple), kiwi fruit, mango, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green/red peppers, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes


Fruits (cantaloupe, apricots, papayas, mangoes, peaches), grains, oil, vegetables (carrots, squash, spinach, kale, pumpkin)


Cereals, brazil nuts, legumes, water, sea food, meat, liver, yeast


Pink fruits and vegetables (grapefruit, watermelon, tomatoes)


Green tea, grapes (red wine), cocoa (chocolate), apples, soybean, berries, onions, broccoli


Organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart), mackerel, sardines, peanuts

Omega-3 fatty acids sources are sea fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines), algae, walnuts, nut oils, flaxseed

Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, cereals, eggs, poultry


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