Antioxidants are chemicals which protect us from the effect of free radicals. Free radicals damage cells and contribute to illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes contain a high amount of antioxidants and some recent research shows that diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables can slow down aging and decrease the risk of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular and neural diseases.
Thousands of antioxidant compounds exist, and their presence is varied across fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Antioxidants can be divided into four families: vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and polyphenols.
Antioxidants may be recognized from their colour: the colour of a vegetable will indicate which kind of antioxidant it contains, and its intensity will indicate how much (greater antioxidant amount makes the colour more intense).
Yellow, orange, red, and purple vegetables contain vitamin C. We can find vitamin C in melons, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. Vitamin E comes in green-coloured vegetables, such as peppers and asparagus.
Carotenoids come in orange, red, and green colours. We can find those in peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, and mangoes.
Lastly, polyphenols are responsible for a wide range of hues in many plants and fruits. The more colourful our diet is, the wider variety of polyphenols we are taking. They are present in legumes such as beans and peas, vegetables such as eggplants, cauliflowers, tomatoes, and peppers, and in fruits such as strawberries and avocados.