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Antioxidants are compounds found in food that are used by the body to fight free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in the body that have become unstable through oxidation, and can cause damage to our cells. The oxidation process is caused by a number of factors including stress, cigarette smoking and alcohol, and over time it can cause irreversible damage and increase our risk of disease. 



Antioxidants may prevent oxidative damage from occurring by being able to donate an electron to the unstable molecule. A diet rich in antioxidants is believed to decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants may also assist with decreasing visible signs of skin ageing.



There are many different types of antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E as well as minerals such as Selenium, and other non-nutrient compounds such as lycopene. Each antioxidant has different properties and functions in the body.


Plant foods such as fruits and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants. Research has shown that antioxidants are most effective in their natural form occurring in whole foods, however supplements are also available. In order to get the most benefit, ensure that you are eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and proteins.


Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of foods, such as:

  • Leeks, garlic and onions are a rich source of allium sulphur compounds,
  • Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene,
  • Pumpkin and carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene,
  • Black and green tea contain flavonoids,
  • Green leafy vegetables contain lutein,
  • Seafood and red meat are rich sources of the antioxidant zinc.



Certain antioxidants may be harmful if taken in concentrated supplementation form. For example, high amounts of Vitamin A may be toxic in individuals who smoke and research has shown it may increase the risk of lung cancer. It is best to consult the advice of your health care professional before taking any supplementation.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.





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