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Super Foods for Optimal Health

Do your immune system a favor, and pack some more fruits and vegetables on your plate.

They're loaded with nutrients, called antioxidants, that are good for you.

Add more fruits and vegetables of any kind to your diet. It'll help your health. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than others, though.

The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon

Vitamin C: berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers

Vitamin E: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

These foods are also rich in antioxidants:

  • Prunes
  • Apples
  • Raisins
  • Plums
  • Red grapes
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Beans

Other antioxidants that can help keep you healthy include:

Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads, and other grain products

Cooking tip: To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed. Don’t overcook or boil them.

Foods or Supplements?

Foods have many different nutrients in them, and they work together. Supplements don't have that same mix.

If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that includes minerals, too.

But chances are, you can get what you need from your diet. If you want to check that you're on track, ask your doctor or a dietitian.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 25, 2013

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