Slide show: Add antioxidants to your diet
Antioxidants: Top food sources
Previous Next 1 of 7 Antioxidants: Why are they important?

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and carotenoids may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Other naturally occurring antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. Plant-based foods are the best sources. These include fruits, vegetables and their juices, whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and even chocolate.

As a bonus, most foods high in antioxidants are high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and good sources of vitamins and minerals. So enjoy the variety.

See more Multimedia April 06, 2014