Health Advice



What you need to know about antioxidants

Carrie Dennett, Environmental Nutrition on

Published in Health & Fitness

Minerals selenium and manganese also have antioxidant properties and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Averill says there may be hundreds of thousands of compounds with antioxidant properties.

Food or supplements?

Should you get antioxidants from supplements? The short answer is no, in part because there can be too much of a good thing. There was a lot of excitement about antioxidant supplements in the 1990s, until researchers found that large doses increased some health risks — such as increased lung cancer risk in smokers taking beta-carotene — or simply did not deliver on hoped-for benefits. It’s almost impossible to get too many antioxidants from food, and there’s no evidence that taking antioxidant supplements works as well as eating antioxidant-rich food.

“It’s not that we specifically take X micronutrient to increase antioxidants in our bodies. It’s that we eat the foods that support the antioxidant balance in the body,” Averill says. “You can’t overcome an imbalance of antioxidants and oxidants through supplements, but there are definitely dietary patterns that will promote a balance and patterns that would promote an imbalance,” Averill says. “However, it’s difficult to say that it’s all diet. If someone is eating an unhealthy diet and has an imbalance, the culprit could also be environmental factors.”

Each antioxidant serves a different function and is not interchangeable, so it’s important to get an array of antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients, from food. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, coffee and cocoa, and green and black tea all have antioxidant compounds. The common denominator? They’re all plant foods.


“People would be amazed at how many antioxidants they can get naturally through food,” Hultin says. “Simply eating more common foods like carrots, apples, onions, or parsley, for example, can provide a wide array of potent antioxidants.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.

©2022 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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