Antioxidants and their sources (Part 1)

In a world where the list of potential and real carcinogens, toxins and pollutants is ever increasing, we must take comfort in the knowledge that the array of antioxidants God has hidden in foods is just as vast. Most of these protective antioxidants are in the form of plant pigments, with each color representing a different group of antioxidants — which explains why we need to have a varied, rainbow-colored diet everyday (and I don’t mean multi-colored cereals).

It also stands to reason that we should not have a hobby-horse when it comes to foods. Eating the same thing for long periods of time is not wise. God created a vast array of nourishing, protective and healing substances and we should “suck in the marrow” of the endless variety nature has to offer instead of limiting ourselves to a few food items.

The following are some of the more common antioxidants and their food sources. From time to time you can gently coax your child to eat their veggies by explaining these facts in a light, fun way.

Vitamin A is synthesized in the human body from beta-carotene which can be found in dark green and deep yellow/orange fruits and vegetables. Some of the more notable beta-carotene storehouses include the greens such as moringa, broccoli and kale as well as the yellow ones like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, oranges and tomatoes. Beta-carotenes are yellow pigments that protect the plants against solar damage — a function which is thought to be the same role they play once they turn into Vitamin A inside the human body.

Alpha-carotene is the second most common carotene compound and can also be found in dark green and yellow-orange vegetables as well.

Astaxanthin is a reddish pigment that is associated with salmon, crustaceans and trout.

Lutein is abundant in dark leafy greens as well as red pepper and kiwi fruit. Lutein is a yellow pigment that helps protec the eyes from cellular damage.

Lycopene is a popular antioxidant that is commonly associated with tomatoes. It is a red pigment that is also abundant in watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, guava and goji berries.

Zeaxanthin is a yellow pigment that occurs in yellow corn, kiwi fruit and saffron as well as dark leafy greens.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is probably the most famous vitamin and is essential for a wide range of functions including wound repair, skin collagen maintenance and iron absorption. Vitamin C naturally abounds in sour fruits such as lemons and limes, oranges, blueberries and strawberries. It also occurs in green leafy vegetables, cabbage and bell pepper.

Vitamin E is an oil-soluble antioxidant that protects lipids from getting rancid or destroyed by free radicals. Rich sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ, fish liver oil, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Manganese plays a critical role in that it is a cofactor that is required in many enzyme systems. It also plays the very important function of detoxifying superoxide free radicals.
Coenzyme Q10 is one cofactor which has been found to be especially concentrated in body organs which have high energy requirements, namely the brain, the heart and the liver. As such, coenzyme Q10 is naturally abundant in healthy organ meats. It can also be found in plant sources such nuts, seeds, oils, parsley, green vegetables and avocado. Coenzyme prevents the production of damaging free radicals.

Up next: Part 2

2 thoughts on “Antioxidants and their sources (Part 1)

  1. I have found many antioxidants in inexpensive items such as ginger , tumeric , cayanne ,cinnamon & many other at your market spices.also oils, many corner groceries…Indian,Brazilian, etc.are very aware of foods medicinal uses

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