Before I get started on Antioxidants, I want to celebrate Registered Dietitian Day! Today I am part of an RD blogfest to celebrate our profession! Registered Dietitians are the food and nutrition experts and have the training to provide you with scientific knowledge and evidence-based information about how food and nutrition affects your health!
An RD blogfest means that several blogging dietitians are getting together and sharing their posts. So if you’re interested in what other Dietitians are saying, check out the list of topics at the bottom of this post. Happy RD Day!!
Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention
You have probably heard a lot of great things that antioxidants are supposed to be able to do for you. There seems to be no shortage of claims that people can make in order to sell you their antioxidant product.
Here are some of the things that companies have claimed about antioxidants:
- prevents cancer
- treats cancer
- prevents aging
- helps with brain function
- strengthens the immune system.
Anyone can make a claim, but do they back up their claim with good science is the question! Here’s what we currently know about antioxidants.
- There are many different types of antioxidants found in nature.
- Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from damage of free radicals. It is currently thought that the damage to cells by free radicals may lead to cancer.
- There have been many lab studies that indicate antioxidants may slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells. However, when studies have been done in humans the results have been mixed.
- Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, and others.
- There have been no studies that prove antioxidants can reverse aging, cell damage or cancer progression.
So what’s the bottom line? The information is somewhat ambiguous and you get to decide what to do! I think that most of the research indicates there are health benefits from eating antioxidant-rich foods, but not supplements.
Therefore, be sure you are eating a diet that provides you with a variety of antioxidants! Here is a list of foods that you can get those antioxidants:
Food Sources of Antioxidants
For the most part you will find antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Since there are many different types of antioxidants, this lists tells you what foods contain which type of antioxidant.
- Beta-carotene is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos, collard greens, spinach, and kale
- Lutein is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.
- Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges
- Selenium , although not an antioxidant, can help antioxidants work in the body. In the United States, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium. Brazil nuts also
contain large quantities of selenium.
- Vitamin A is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese.
- Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin E is found in almonds and in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils. It is also found in mangos, nuts, broccoli and other foods.
It seems that the sweet potato made several different lists of antioxidant foods! My suggestion to you is to eat a variety of the foods listed here to provide your body with as many different antioxidants as possible along with other health promoting nutrients!
[For more on this topic, check out the National Cancer Institute’s Fact Sheet on Antioxidants.]
RD BLOGFEST TOPICS:
Beyond Prenatals – Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Ashley Colpaart – Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Diana Dyer – There and Back Again: Celebration of National Dietitian Day 2009
Cheryl Harris – Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Julie Lanford – Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Renata Mangrum – What I’m doing as I grow up…
Liz Marr – Fruits and Veggies for Registered Dietian Day: Two Poems
Jill Nussinow – The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through
Wendy Jo Petersen – March 11 is our day to shine!
Diane Preves – Registered Dietitians and the White House Forum on Health Reform
Rebecca Scritchfield – Big Tips from a “Big Loser”
Anthony Sepe – RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County – Nutrition Know How – Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey – In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro – My life as a Registered Dietitian