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How antioxidants work

Have you heard of this trick to keep apples from browning? Coat with lemon juice! Lemon juice has vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to protect the apple from spoiling when it’s exposed to the air.

How antioxidants work

Antioxidants protect cells in our bodies from damage in a similar way. Here’s how! Free radicals are substances naturally created by the body when we breathe and digest food. Free radicals can damage cells in our bodies. Every day, cells are damaged and repaired as a normal part of aging. More free radicals are formed when you breathe in smoke or pollution or are exposed to UV light from the sun. This can cause a high amount of free radicals to form.
Having a high amount of free radicals in your body can cause damage to healthy cells that may lead to health problems. This damage may increase your risk of diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from damage from free radicals, and can even help repair some of the damage. Our bodies make some antioxidants but we need to get more antioxidants from food for good health. Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans are the best source of antioxidants.

The colours of fruits and vegetables are a clue to the types of antioxidants they have. The best way to make sure you’re getting all the antioxidants you need for good health is to choose a rainbow of bright colours of fruits and vegetables. Aim to get at least 7 servings of vegetables and fruit every day to get enough antioxidants. A serving is ½ cup fresh or frozen vegetables or fruit, 1 cup salad or 1 medium fruit. You can also get antioxidants from supplements such as a multivitamin or vitamin C tablets. These supplements can give you a high dose of antioxidants. Taking high doses of antioxidants from supplements can be harmful to your health. When you are on cancer treatment, it’s important to get antioxidants from a healthy, balanced diet that includes whole fruits and vegetables.
Food has a variety of antioxidants in the right amounts for good health. This will help protect your healthy cells during cancer treatment. Remember, whole foods are the best source of antioxidants. Taking antioxidant supplements that contain a high dose of antioxidants can affect how well cancer treatments such as radiation work in your body. That’s why its very important to talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking any supplements. They can talk to you about your specific health needs to see what types of supplements you can take and how they affect your health.