Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: What foods are rich in antioxidants?

Heart Beat

What foods are rich in antioxidants?

Single antioxidants, like vitamin E or beta carotene, have never lived up to the hype that they halt heart disease, cure cancer, eradicate eye disease, or prevent Alzheimer's. That shouldn't be surprising. The notion that antioxidants are good for you comes from studies showing that people who eat foods rich in antioxidants have better long-term health. Trials of single supplements, usually taken in pill form, have yielded disappointing results.

Antioxidants stabilize harmful by-products of the body's energy-making machinery. These by-products, known as free radicals, can damage DNA, make LDL (bad) cholesterol even worse, and wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.

It's possible that single antioxidants haven't panned out because it takes a network of antioxidants "" like those that exist in foods "" to neutralize free radicals. If that's the case, then it would be helpful to determine the antioxidant content of various foods.

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