Antioxidants are compounds that are naturally present in foods. They are commonly thought to help prevent disease by helping to fight free radicals, which are formed during normal respiration as well as when the body is exposed to contaminants in the environment like cigarette smoke. If a person doesn’t eat enough antioxidant-rich foods, the free radicals will travel throughout the body, destroying the cells as they go.
The free radicals are responsible for one of the risk factors for heart disease, which is the oxidation of cholesterol. When oxygen is combined with low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol), this process leads to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries. If the plaque buildup becomes significant enough, it can lead to a heart attack.
A number of studies have been conducted to determine whether taking antioxidant supplements can help to improve health and lower the risk of heart attack. The results indicated that Vitamin E didn’t play a major role in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
How to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Better ways to lower your risk of developing heart disease and stroke instead of relying on antioxidants are as follows:
- Eating a low-fat, high fiber diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods for Good Health
Foods containing antioxidants and beta carotene definitely have a choice in a heart-healthy diet. By choosing to include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your eating plan, you are getting much-needed fiber and nutrients on your plate. Excellent or good sources of Vitamin E include:
- Brown rice
- Green leafy vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat/wheat germ
- Whole Grains
You can get beta carotene in your diet by choosing red, dark orange and dark green vegetables and fruits.
When you visit the Produce section of your local grocery store, be sure to choose fruits and vegetables that are rich in color. They are also packed with much-needed nutrients for you.