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Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Many experts believe this damage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize the cellular-damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally in your body, but when you exercise hard, your body pumps out more free radicals. Environmental factors such as pollution, the sun, cigarette smoke, and herbicides can also spawn free radicals. The danger is that free-radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage that free radicals otherwise might cause. As an active person, more antioxidants may help you slow the aging process, ward off cancer and stress, and promote good health.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
One of the best ways to keep your immune system strong and prevent colds and flu is to shop your supermarket's produce aisle. Experts say a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you ward off infections like colds and flu. That is because these super foods contain immune-boosting antioxidants.
Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods, including nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish. Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. You will find them in colorful fruits and vegetables - especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; do not overcook or boil.
OTHER ANTIOXIDANT SOURCES
Vitamins are not the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost immnity inlcude Selenium and Zinc. The list below describes food sources of common antioxidants.
BETA CAROTENE: Beta Carotenes are found in many foods that are orange in color, including apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, legumes, mangos, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
LUTEIN: Best known for its association with healthy eyes, lutein is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach and kale.
LYCOPENE: A potent antioxidant found in apicots, blood oranges, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, watermelon, and other foods. Estimates suggest that 85-percent of American dietary intake of lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products.
SELENIUM: Selenium is actually a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient, but it is a component of antioxidant enzymes. Plant foods such as rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries. However, in the United States, animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. In the United States, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium. Brazil nuts also contain large quantities of selenium. Other foods include tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads and other grain products.
VITAMIN A: Vitamin A is found in three main forms: vitamin A-1, vitamin A-2 and vitamin A-3. Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese.
VITAMIN C: Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C can be found in high abundance in many fruits (citrus), different vegetables (green peppers), and is also found in cereals, beef, poultry and fish. Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangos, nectarines, oranges, papaya, green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries and tomatoes are all high in Vitamin C.
VITAMIN E: Vitamin E is also known as alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E is found in almonds; in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils; and is also found in broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangos, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds as well as many other foods.
ZINC: Zinc is found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products.
Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include: Alfalfa sprouts, all berries, apples, bananas, dried beans, eggplant, onions, plums, prunes, raisins, and red grapes.
Where do Americans typically get their antioxidants? Coffee is number one on the list. Other popular sources include Black Tea, Green Tea, Red Wine, Beer, and Cocoa. Many recent studies emphasize the health benefits of red wine and tea, known to be high in antioxidants, but researchers at Cornell University have shown that hot chocolate contains more antioxidants per cup than a similar serving of red wine or tea. Their study, done in 2003, compared the total antioxidant content of these three popular beverages. To gain a better understanding of how these beverages compare in terms of antioxidants, the researchers tested all three beverages using similar serving sizes and conditions. The beverages tested included a cup of hot water containing 2 tablespoons of pure cocoa powder, close to the amount of cocoa in a normal-size packet of instant hot chocolate, a cup of water containing one bag of green tea, a cup of black tea, and 5 ounces of red wine (California merlot).
Using special analytical techniques to evaluate the total antioxidant content in each beverage, the researchers showed the antioxidant concentration in cocoa was the highest among those tested. The hot chocolate was almost two times stronger in antioxidants than red wine, two to three times stronger than green tea, and four to five times stronger than that of black tea.
Antioxidant-rich cocoa is also found in many different products including desserts, sauces, liqueurs, and candy bars, which differ widely in their cocoa content, and many companies are advertising their chocolate to contain antioxidants while emphasizing the natural qualities of the chocolate. Keep in mind, a normal 40-gram bar of chocolate contains about 8 grams of saturated fat, compared to only 0.3 grams in an average cup of hot cocoa.
Color your plate with green, orange, red, yellow and brown. The more color from fruits and veggies you have, the more likely you are going for natural sources of antioxidants - and throw in a cup of hot chocolate once in a while.
ANTIOXIDANT RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCES (RDA)
OPTIMAL HEALTH & IMMUNITY
For optimal health and immune functioning, you should eat the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of the antioxidant vitamins and minerals. That is the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that you need to stay healthy and avoid a deficiency. If you have health issues requiring treatment or deficiencies, then the therapeutic dosages would be higher than given below. Here are the RDAs for some antioxidants:
BETA CAROTENE: There is no RDA for beta-carotene. But the Institute of Medicine says that if you get 3 to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene daily, your body will have the levels that may lower risk of chronic diseases.
SELENIUM: 55 micrograms for men or women.
VITAMIN C: 90 milligrams for men, 75 milligrams for women; smokers should get extra vitamin C: 125 milligrams for men and 110 milligrams for women.
VITAMIN E: 15 milligrams for men and women.
ZINC: 11 milligrams for men, 8 milligrams for women; if you are a strict vegetarian, you may require as much as 50-percent more dietary zinc. Thatís because your body absorbs less zinc when you have a diet rich in plant-based foods.
ANTIOXIDANT FOODS & SUPPLEMENTS
Brightly colored foods are usually powerful antioxidants. If you are eating plenty of them, you can get by without antioxidant supplementation. But even elite athletes are almost always are found to be deficient in some antioxidants. Whenever our bodies endure stress - whether it is from physical activity, sun damage, pollution, or day-to-day family and job stresses - we suffer cellular damage. It is unavoidable. Those damaged cells are known as free radicals. We want to minimize their impact and get them out of our system immediately. Antioxidants maintain order among your cells and slow the aging process. They are critical to your immediate and long-term health.
You can get antioxidants from taking a vitamin or a supplement, but you may be missing out on other nutrients that could strengthen the immune system. Foods contain many different nutrients that work together to promote health. Many nutrients are still being discovered and their qualities and functions researched. Supplements are not meant to replace whole foods and a healthy diet - only to ":supplement" an established diet that may be deficient or to treat a known nutrient deficiency or health ailment. For example, researchers delving into the mysteries of fruits and vegetables and the complex antioxidants they contain have discovered benefits of:
QUERCETIN: A plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas, red wines, and other foods; it fights inflammation and may help reduce allergies.
LUTEOLIN: A flavonoid found in abundance in celery and green peppers; it also fights inflammation, and one study showed it may help protect against inflammatory brain conditions like Alzheimer's.
CATECHINS: a type of flavonoid found in tea; catechins in tea may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimerís disease.
If you cannot get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But be cautious about taking individual immune system supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants, as with most anything, moderation is key. Vitamins A and E, for example, are lipid-based stored in the body and eliminated slowly. Getting too much can be toxic. Vitamin C, however is water-based and excess will be eliminated daily, thus this nutrient must be replaced daily by eating Vitamin-C rich foods and taking a supplement, if needed.
ANTIOXIDANT INDEX LISTING
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Introduction
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Alpha-Carotene
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Alpha-Lipoic Acid
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Astaxanthin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Bilberry
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Burdock
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Carotenoids (Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Catechin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Cell Guard
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Coenzyme Q-10
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Combination Antioxidant Supplements
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Cryptoxanthin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Curcumin (Turmeric)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Cysteine
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Flavonoids (Bioflavonoids)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Free Radicals
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Garlic
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Ginkgo Biloba
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Glutathione
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Grape Seed Extract
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Green Tea
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Hesperidin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Inositol (IP-6)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Lutein
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Lycopene
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Melatonin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acid Antioxidants - Methionine
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Oligomeric Proantocyanidins (OPCs)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Pycnogenol
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Selenium
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Silymarin (Milk Thistle)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Super Antioxidants
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Vitamin C
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Vitamin E
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Zeaxanthin
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants - Zinc
AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Allspice Leaf Oil Angelica Oil Anise Oil Baobab Oil Basil Oil Bay Laurel Oil Bay Oil Benzoin Oil Bergamot Oil Black Pepper Oil Chamomile (German) Oil Cajuput Oil Calamus Oil Camphor (White) Oil Caraway Oil Cardamom Oil Carrot Seed Oil Catnip Oil Cedarwood Oil Chamomile Oil Cinnamon Oil Citronella Oil Clary-Sage Oil Clove Oil Coriander Oil Cypress Oil Dill Oil Eucalyptus Oil Fennel Oil Fir Needle Oil Frankincense Oil Geranium Oil German Chamomile Oil Ginger Oil Grapefruit Oil Helichrysum Oil Hyssop Oil Iris-Root Oil Jasmine Oil Juniper Oil Labdanum Oil Lavender Oil Lemon-Balm Oil Lemongrass Oil Lemon Oil Lime Oil Longleaf-Pine Oil Mandarin Oil Marjoram Oil Mimosa Oil Myrrh Oil Myrtle Oil Neroli Oil Niaouli Oil Nutmeg Oil Orange Oil Oregano Oil Palmarosa Oil Patchouli Oil Peppermint Oil Peru-Balsam Oil Petitgrain Oil Pine-Long Leaf Oil Pine-Needle Oil Pine-Swiss Oil Rosemary Oil Rose Oil Rosewood Oil Sage Oil Sandalwood Oil Savory Oil Spearmint Oil Spikenard Oil Swiss-Pine Oil Tangerine Oil Tea-Tree Oil Thyme Oil Vanilla Oil Verbena Oil Vetiver Oil Violet Oil White-Camphor Oil Yarrow Oil Ylang-Ylang Oil Aromatherapy
Healing Baths For Colds
Using Essential Oils
AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Almond, Sweet Oil Apricot Kernel Oil Argan Oil Arnica Oil Avocado Oil Baobab Oil Black Cumin Oil Black Currant Oil Black Seed Oil Borage Seed Oil Calendula Oil Camelina Oil Castor Oil Coconut Oil Comfrey Oil Evening Primrose Oil Flaxseed Oil Grapeseed Oil Hazelnut Oil Hemp Seed Oil Jojoba Oil Kukui Nut Oil Macadamia Nut Oil Meadowfoam Seed Oil Mullein Oil Neem Oil Olive Oil Palm Oil Plantain Oil Plum Kernel Oil Poke Root Oil Pomegranate Seed Oil Pumpkin Seed Oil Rosehip Seed Oil Safflower Oil Sea Buckthorn Oil Sesame Seed Oil Shea Nut Oil Soybean Oil St. Johns Wort Oil Sunflower Oil Tamanu Oil Vitamin E Oil Wheat Germ Oil
HELPFUL RELATED MOONDRAGON NUTRITION BASICS LINKS
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Homeopathics Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Hydrosols Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Minerals Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary & Cosmetic Supplements Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary Supplements Introduction MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Specialty Supplements MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction
NUTRITION BASICS ARTICLES
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Is Aspartame A Safe Sugar Substitute? MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Heal MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Overcooking Your Foods MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Phytochemicals MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Increase Your Consumption of Raw Produce MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Limit Your Use of Salt MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Use Proper Cooking Utensils MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water
RELATED MOONDRAGON HEALTH LINKS & INFORMATION
MoonDragon's Nutrition Information Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Therapy Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Analysis Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Diet Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Recipe Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Therapy: Preparing Produce for Juicing MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Additives Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Safety Links MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Index MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Articles MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Back Pain MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Blending Chart MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Essential Oil Details MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Links MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Miscarriage MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Post Partum MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Childbearing MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Problems in Pregnancy & Birthing MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1 MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #2 MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Uses MoonDragon's Alternative Health Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information Overview MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Touch & Movement Therapies Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy: Touch & Movement: Aromatherapy MoonDragon's Alternative Therapy: Touch & Movement - Massage Therapy MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Therapeutic Massage MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 1 MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 2 MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Nutrition Basics Index MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy Index MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Massage Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hydrotherapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Pain Control Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Relaxation Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Steam Inhalation Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy - Herbal Oils Index
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