The body produces its own antioxidants as well as obtains them from food. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, minerals such as selenium, lutein (found in egg yolks), as well as many of the key ingredients in functional foods, such as anthocyanins (responsible for red, purple and blue colors in fruits and vegetables), beta-carotene (which gives carrots and pumpkins their orange color), catechins (green tea), coenzyme Q10 (beef, poultry and lamb), flavonoids (chocolate), and lycopenes (tomatoes and watermelon).
Studies have shown that a diet that includes lots of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases. That does not mean, however, that these benefits can be directly traced to the action of antioxidants (that is, cause-and-effect cannot be confirmed through carefully controlled scientific studied). This is also true when it comes to antioxidants in dietary supplements. And, in fact, overall reviews of antioxidant studies have not identified any clear benefit from higher intake of antioxidants. Confusing? Definitely! Welcome to the world of nutrition claims, where it is often the case that although there may be reason to believe in the power of something, that doesn’t constitute real proof. Hence, the need for caution and careful science.