Our bodies are battlegrounds that fight against infections and diseases. Day-to-day functions such as breathing or physical activity and other lifestyle habits (such as smoking) form substances called free radicals that attack healthy cells. Once attacked, these cells weaken and become vulnerable to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein) help to safeguard healthy cells against the damage of free radicals.
There are around 600 or more carotenoids in foods amongst which beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein lead the fight against the damage from free radicals. Foods rich in these substances guard the body against certain cancers and also help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Carotenoid-rich foods include red, orange, deep-yellow and some dark-green leafy vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, spinach, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, winter squash and broccoli.
Research studies prove the vital role of vitamin E in promoting health. The primary role of vitamin E is that of an antioxidant protecting the body from cell damage which can otherwise result in cancer, heart disease and cataracts as we age. It also works with other antioxidants such as vitamin C to safeguard against chronic diseases. Vegetable oils, salad dressings, margarine, wheat germ, whole-grain products, seeds, nuts and peanut butter are good sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin C, the best antioxidant known to mankind, renders multiple health benefits. Vitamin C protects our body against infection and damage to body cells, helps in producing collagen (the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together) and also aids in the absorption of iron and folate.
Add a dash of vitamin C to your body by consuming citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits and tangerines), strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes.
Hurdles against Healthy Eating
Following a healthy eating plan includes consuming well-balanced meals and snacks every day and to relish a wide array of foods. Start living healthily by eating at least 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.
Healthy specialists/Nutritionists and dietitians recommend getting antioxidants to your body via food rather than a dose of supplements as research has not yet proved antioxidant supplements to be beneficial in preventing diseases. Sometimes healthful eating becomes a challenge and the best solution to this problem is to consult a registered dietitian who can check your eating habits and determine the requirement of a supplement. You can speak to a nutritionist/dietitian by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.