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Super Foods for Optimal Health

Do your immune system a favor and pack 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 (boiled), avocado, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach (boiled), 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, some fortified cereals (check the ingredients to see if zinc has been added), 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 fruits and vegetables in your diet, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin with minerals.

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 Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on October 25, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

WebMD Medical Reference: ''Antioxidants -- Topic Overview;'' ''Spring Allergies;'' "Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide;" and "Food Sources for Vitamins and Minerals."

U.S. Department of Agriculture: ''Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods.''

MedicineNet: “Vitamin and Calcium Supplements.”

National Institutes of Health: ''Facts About Dietary Supplements: Zinc;'' ''Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Selenium;'' ''Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin A and Carotenoids;'' and ''Vitamin E.''

Oregon State University Micronutrient Information Center: ''Vitamin C.''

Scott Berliner, supervising pharmacist, Life Science Pharmacy, Harriman, NY.

WebMD Health News: ''Can Celery Help Cut Brain Inflammation?''

WebMD Features: ''Health Benefits of Tea'' and ''How Antioxidants Work.''

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