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Most commonly known antioxidants

What are ANTIOXIDANTS?Antioxidants are chemicals that occur naturally in foods. They help fight the potentially harmful effects of unstable substances known as free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed during the body’s normal and tear on body cells. Infections, UV light (from both the sun and artificial tanning machines), cigarette smoke, pollution and even exercise can all generate free radicals.1


Antioxidants come to the rescue of healthy body cells by destroying some of the free radicals that would otherwise harm and damage our healthy cells. Our bodies make their own antioxidants, but they also make use of antioxidants in the foods we eat. Studies have shown there are many benefits from eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods which, together with an active and balanced lifestyle, can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.



Food Sources

Vitamin A & Carotenoids Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots (bright-colour fruits and vegetables!)
Vitamin C Citrus fruits like oranges and lime etc, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
Vitamin E Nuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and vegetable oil
Selenium Fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
Polyphenols Flavonoids including:

  • Isoflavones – soy beans, tofu, lentils, peas and milk
  • Flavonols – citrus fruits, red wine, onions and apples
  • Catechins – tea, green tea, cocoa, dark chocolate
  • Anthocyanins – berries, red wine

Phenolics including:

  • Chlorogenic acid – instant and brewed coffee
Indoles Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage



It is easy to get enough antioxidants by choosing a balanced diet rich in colourful fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Here are some tips on boosting the antioxidants in your diet:


  • Get your recommended 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Drink coffee in moderation, as a source of polyphenol antioxidants.
  • Pack fruit salad for a vitamin and antioxidant-rich snack.
  • Keep canned or frozen berries on hand for smoothies or add to yogurt for a delicious dessert.
  • Snack on mixed dried fruit and nuts.
  • Pile your plate high with red, yellow and green vegetables.
  • Enjoy a small amount (about 20g) of high cocoa dark chocolate or hot chocolate.

References: 1. Ferguson L et al. 2006. Oxidative damage and repair; significance and biomarkers. J Nutr. 136(10);2687S-2689S 2. Manach C, et al. 2004. Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. Am J Clin Nutr. 79:727-47.