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Which Foods Prevent Free Radicals in Your Body?

author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Which Foods Prevent Free Radicals in Your Body?
Fresh fruits. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Free radicals are dangerous molecules that can accumulate in your body and cause serious health problems, like cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, free radicals are formed with incomplete electron shells, which makes them more chemically reactive and damaging to your health. Toxic chemicals from substances like cigarette smoke and environmental radiation can also cause free radicals. Eating foods with antioxidants help prevent, neutralize and eradicate free radicals before they have a chance to cause DNA damage and long-term health problems.

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Foods With Beta Carotene

Orange colored food has beta carotene.
Orange colored food has beta carotene. Photo Credit: anna1311/iStock/Getty Images

Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that may help neutralize and prevent free radicals. Foods with beta carotene are easy to spot because this antioxidant gives them a vibrant orange color. The International Food Information Council Foundation reports that foods with beta carotene may also bolster your body's defenses so you are better able to prevent the formation of free radicals. Look for orange fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangoes to get this antioxidant.

Foods With Vitamin C

Papaya contains Vitamin C.
Papaya contains Vitamin C. Photo Credit: Images

One of the antioxidants that gets the most attention is vitamin C because it has such as a positive effect your body's natural defenses against illness. In addition to boosting your immune system, vitamin C also helps prevent the damage that free radicals cause by eliminating them before they become an irreversible problem. Foods high in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, pineapple, papaya, broccoli, brussels sprouts and spinach.

Foods With Vitamin E

Brown rice contains Vitamin E.
Brown rice contains Vitamin E. Photo Credit: Andrii Gorulko/iStock/Getty Images

Adding vitamin E to your daily diet is another way to help prevent the formation of free radicals, as well as help neutralize any that have already formed. Vitamin E is another nutrient that has antioxidant properties that help protect cells from free radicals and also aids in DNA repair, notes the International Food Information Council Foundation. Including vitamin E-rich foods like nuts, nut butters, vegetable oils, whole grains, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal and dark leafy green vegetables will help you get these benefits by increasing your intake of this important antioxidant.

Foods With Selenium

Brazil nuts have selenium.
Brazil nuts have selenium. Photo Credit: Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

The National Cancer Institute notes that while selenium is not a antioxidant nutrient, it does play an important role in preventing free radicals and free radical damage. Selenium is present in foods that come from the ground, as well as in animal products that rely on selenium-rich feed. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium, but eating oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, onions, wheat germ, whole grains and vegetables will also supply a healthy dose of this important free-radical preventing mineral.

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