Antioxidants are natural ingredients that can protect our body’s cells from harmful influences.
Antioxidants are contained in vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances. If you eat a balanced and varied diet – as suggested in the South African food-based Dietary Guidelines – then you should be assured of an ample supply.
Protecting our bodies
When we are under stress or exposed to cigarette smoke or are sunbathing, and even when we are simply breathing, processes are taking place in our body that we call ‘oxidation’. Oxidation produces substances known as free radicals. Our bodies are able to intercept a certain amount of these aggressive compounds and prevent possible damage to cells. Only when free radicals are created in excess are they capable of harming us. Antioxidants help us get rid of free radicals. They counteract oxidative processes and make free radicals harmless. In this way, they help maintain a natural balance in the body.
Tips for a healthy supply of antioxidants
Health professionals recommend that people eat a balanced, colourful and varied diet, as recommended in the South African food-based Dietary Guidelines. This will assure that you get adequate amounts of antioxidants.
|Fruit and vegetables||Many antioxidants are located in or just underneath the skin, so avoid peeling fruits if possible, just wash them thoroughly under running water. Maintain a diet that is balanced and varied with lots of fruit and vegetables you will usually be well supplied with antioxidants. Experts in nutrition recommend five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables in season will be especially fresh and rich in vitamins, and of course, delicious.|
|Cereals||Most of the antioxidants are found in the surface layers of the cereal grain. For this reason, try to choose whole-grain cereal products. This is also important for providing you with adequate amounts of dietary fibre.|
|Coffee, great tea, cocoa, chocolate||
By nature, coffee is rich in antioxidants. Green tea or hot chocolate provide alternative sources. Also chocolate, especially high cocoa varieties such as dark chocolate. The higher the proportion of cocoa, the greater the quantity of antioxidants.
This page contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.