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What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nutrients that help protect against free radicals — substances made by the body that attack healthy cells. Some experts think free radicals may play a crucial role in aging and disease development.
Nutrients classified as antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E, as well as beta-carotene and selenium. Some researchers think that getting enough of these antioxidants may protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. But others say there is not enough evidence to prove this.
Is it a good idea to take supplements that provide high doses of antioxidants?
Some studies show that taking high doses of vitamins E and C may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, although other studies haven’t shown a benefit. Other research shows that a high intake of vitamin C may lower the risk of heart disease and cataracts.
However, many experts say that there’s not enough data to support any of these claims. In addition, taking high doses of some nutrients may be dangerous, particularly for certain populations. For instance, studies are finding that taking beta-carotene supplements may increase a smoker’s risk of lung cancer.
What’s the best way to get more antioxidants?
Experts agree that the best way to get antioxidants is from eating a varied diet. Here are some foods that contain antioxidants:
Find healthy recipes to increase your intake of antioxidants.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's nutrition services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about nutrition, read the Nutrition News archive.