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Special needs of seniors: antioxidants

Seniors deserve special care. Each senior has different nutritional needs and unique health conditions that affect what they able to and not able to eat. In spite of this, anti oxidants are one such class of nutrients that can benefit the elderly population.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances including some nutrients such as beta carotene, lycopene, vitamins C and E and selenium that can help protect your body cells from the effects of free radicals, which are produced when body breaks down food. These free radicals can also be produced when the body is exposed to certain environmental contaminants.1

Antioxidants can potentially help in counteracting the oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, which has been thought to play a role in the development of many diseases.1

How to increase antioxidant intake ?

When it comes to antioxidant intake, no one food or food group should be relied upon. It's best to include a wide variety of foods as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. As a bonus, foods high in antioxidants might typically offer are other health benefits (redundant) such as being high in fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals aswell.

Some of the sources of antioxidants include:2

Fruits and berries: Fruits like pomegranate, grapes, plum, and pineapple are high in antioxidants, as are, guavas, amlas, oranges, sweet lime and other citrus fruits. Deeply colored Indian berries like jamun, karonda are good sources of antioxidants and so are their imported counterparts like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries.

Vegetables: The ones with the highest antioxidant content include, spinach, tomatoes, red cabbage, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, pistachios and almonds are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content and so are flaxseeds (alsi).

Herbs and spices: These may be unexpected suppliers of antioxidants, but ground cloves, cinnamon and ginger, dried oregano leaf and turmeric powder are all good sources.

Grains: In general, whole grain cereals are good sources of antioxidants

The Extras: Spices like cinnamon, chilli powder are found to have a high antioxidant activity.2 Also beverages like green tea are good sources of antioxidants. Other beverages like red wine and many fruit juices such as pomegranate too have high levels of antioxidants in them.Dark chocolate is also a good source of antioxidants.2


References

1.Anonymous. Antioxidant Supplements for Health: An Introduction.[internet] cited on 25.03.11. Available from: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm#key

2.Singh M, Arseneault M, Sanderson T, Murthy V, Ramassamy C. Challenges for research on polyphenols from foods in Alzheimer's disease: bioavailability, metabolism, and cellular and molecular mechanisms. J. Agric. Food Chem.,. 2008; 56(13):4855-73. Epub 2008 Jun 17.