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Power of Antioxidants

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Strength in numbers

At Big Y, your family’s health is just as important to us as it is to you. With the number of diseases directly affected by lifestyle choices, we want to make sure you have all you need to feel your best‍—‍and focusing on what you eat is a great start!


Antioxidants – What are they?

When our body makes energy, it naturally creates free radicals. Some experts believe that the higher the level of free radicals in our body, the higher our risk for developing diseases. Antioxidants are chemicals found in food that are believed to help reduce the number of free radicals. Scientists are studying these individually to determine their ability to reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Realistically, it may not be that simple.


Why is that?

Researchers are finding that the protective properties of antioxidants may have more to do with an individual’s genes. Your genetic makeup may work with a particular antioxidant compound to help reduce your risk of disease. On the other hand, you may not see the protective properties of another antioxidant compound if you do not have the “matching” gene. Therefore, you should strive to consume as many different antioxidants and antioxidant‍-‍acting plant compounds as possible each day.


Good news

Research suggests that your overall eating pattern may dictate your disease risk. People who consume meal plans higher in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Instead of shooting for a magic number of antioxidants each day, including a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals and snacks just might be the best thing you can do to fight off disease!


Aim for

When following a 2,000‍-‍calorie meal plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2020‍–‍2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans[1] recommend eating:

  • Every day:
    • 2½ cups vegetables
    • 2 cups fruit
  • Each week:
    • 1½ cups dark green vegetables
    • 5½ cups red and orange vegetables
    • 1½ cups beans, peas and lentils
    • 5 cups starchy vegetables
    • 4 cups other vegetables

[1] U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Published 5/5/2021