Information for Kids on Antioxidants

When you breathe, eat or exercise, your body produces potentially harmful molecules called free radicals, which many scientists suspect can contribute to illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are the super-heroes that help battle free radicals in your body, but in order to get them, you must eat a variety of healthy foods daily.

Free Radicals Can Make Us Sick

These are called free radicals, and scientists think they contribute to serious illnesses such as:

  • diabetes
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • to name a few
  • according to a 2013 story at WashingtonPost.com

Antioxidants to the Rescue

Antioxidants are thought to be the antidote to free radicals 1. Antioxidants come in many forms -- mostly vitamins and minerals -- and they work together inside the body to help keep cells working properly.

Foods High in Antioxidants

Grapes, kiwi fruit and wild blueberries are a few of the most effective foods when it comes to raising the body's level of antioxidants, according to a study published in the April 2007 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." Other star performers include spinach, kale, nuts, tuna and oranges.

How to Get the Most Benefit

You might think that eating large quantities of the foods highest in antioxidants would be the most beneficial, but that's not the case. Because no one understands exactly how each antioxidant works inside the body, it's not clear which job each one performs. Scientists know that antioxidants in general work to counteract the negative effects that free radicals have on our bodies, but haven't yet pinpointed exactly how they do it. This is why doctors and nutritionists recommend eating a variety of healthy foods across the spectrum to ensure our bodies get the most benefit from antioxidants.

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