Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help to protect and repair damaged cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are caused by environmental factors such as radiation or tobacco smoke, as well as molecules produced when our bodies break down food. By damaging cells, free radicals may play a role in causing cancer, heart disease, weakening of the immune system, and other illnesses.
The major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and minerals selenium and manganese. According to experts, antioxidants fight off the damage caused by free radicals and thus help to keep our immune systems strong. They are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, particularly those of purple, red, blue, orange, and yellow hues.
Examples of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants are kale, apricots, asparagus, berries, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelon, among others. They can also be found in nuts and grains.