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What are antioxidants and how can they help?

antioxidants
Blog

/ by Erin Peters

Lately it seems as if there’s a new health ‘buzz word’ trending every other day. From fad diets to superfoods, it can be hard to keep up with all of the terminology. Antioxidants may be one of these ‘buzz words’ you’ve heard about.

Antioxidants are chemicals found in our bodies that help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have the potential to wreak havoc on our body. Antioxidants work by neutralizing this stress to either slow down or prevent long-term damage. Since cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal cell division, some studies suggest that antioxidant consumption may be helpful in fighting or slowing down the progression of the disease.

Although we do naturally produce some antioxidants, most come from foods that we eat. Foods like fruits and vegetables are usually highest in antioxidants, hence the importance of those food groups in our diets.

Dietary sources high in antioxidants:

  • Berries
  • Pumpkin
  • Onion
  • Leafy greens
  • Citrus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tea
  • Lean meats
  • Broccoli/cauliflower

If you are wondering whether or not your current diet consists of antioxidants, take a look at the color of the food on your plate next time. Foods rich in antioxidants tend to be more bright and colorful. If you notice your plate looks bland, try adding one or two colorful fruits or vegetables to your next meal!

While modifications to your diet are generally safe for most patients, it is important to discuss any planned changes with your doctor or registered dietitian before starting to ensure they will not  interfere with your medications or treatment plans.

For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at UK Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian.