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Antioxidant Vegetables

Posted Aug 19 2009 4:42pm
We know we need to eat more veggies. Maybe knowing the real benefit of eating veggies will help us actually eat them.

The consumption of vegetarian diets is associated with many benefits in our body. Regular consumption of fresh vegetables helps to prevent a number of disorders including cancers. The risk of developing heart disorders is reduced to a great extent owing to the reduction of cholesterol levels and high antioxidant consumption in individuals who followed vegetarian diets. Green and fresh vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants that help to clear the free radicals that are associated with cell damage. 1

Recent studies that have evaluated individuals following vegetarian diet to a large extent have noticed a reduction of the incidence of disorders of the heart, nervous system and also cancer. The presence of various biochemicals commonly known as polyphenols has been attributed to the protective effect of the vegetables. Along with the polyphenols, plant sources contain many other bioactive substances that contribute to the prevention of disorders. 2 Another component that extends the benefit of vegetables is the flavinoid. Different types of flavinoids are noted in vegetables that have antioxidant properties. These flavinoids are quite effective in preventing the accumulation of fat in the blood vessels of the heart and thereby decrease the risk of stroke and other heart disorders. 3


Asparagus has been used since ancient time in Indian medicine as a cure for many disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Along with its protective effect on the cells of the stomach and intestines, asparagus has also been noted to have antioxidant and immune stimulant effects. Asparagus has been prescribed for the treatment of ulcers in the stomach and intestines. Furthermore it has also been used to cure disorders of the nervous system, liver and certain infections. 4, 5

The roots of asparagus contain a wide number of compounds that possess antioxidant abilities. The presence of these compounds may be attributed to the health benefits associated with the use of asparagus. Numerous studies are being conducted worldwide to study the beneficial effects of these antioxidant compounds on the human body. Antioxidants present in asparagus help protect against several disorders that result from the increased action of free radicals and other harmful substances in the body. 6

Bell Pepper

Bell peppers, also commonly referred to as capsicum, have been known for their antioxidant properties. Available in different colors (green, yellow, orange, and red), bell pepper is studied widely for its beneficial effects in different disorders; especially in disorders related to mental health. The bell pepper contains different bioactive compounds along with significant amounts of beta-carotine (pro vitamin A) and other similar compounds.

When compared with the color of bell pepper and the levels of active contents, red bell pepper had the highest amount of beta-carotine and yellow bell pepper had the lowest levels. All bell peppers were noted to have equivalent amounts of antioxidant activity. When used for cooking it was noted that bell pepper prevented the oxidation of essential fatty acids. 7 A study performed on rats established the antioxidant ability of bell pepper which has protective effects on the brain cells. The chemical compounds present in bell pepper actively prevented oxidation of the essential fats within the brain cells that are considered necessary for optimal brain function. 8


Carrot is widely grown across the world and is considered as one of the major sources of beta-carotine (pro vitamin A). The beta-carotine is converted into vitamin A in our body and acts as a potent antioxidant. Other antioxidant molecules present in carrots include lutein and lycopene. 9 The antioxidants present in vegetables such as carrots are highly essential for our body. Vitamin A prevents damage of the white blood cells that are involved in fighting against various infections. Adequate levels of antioxidants in our body help us to prevent a multitude of disorders including diabetes, hypertension, heart disorders and cancer. 10 Carrots also contain many other bioactive substances known as polyphenols which have potent antioxidant ability. In a study to compare the antioxidant levels in different colors of carrot it was noted that purple-yellow coloued carrots had the highest level of antioxidants. 11


Celery is used as a vegetable and the leaf stalk or the roots are the parts of this plant that are consumed normally. Celery seeds and celery juice are also used in different ways. The benefits of celery have been attributed to the presence of bioactive chemicals known as flavinoids. Among these flavinoids, luteolin is the most common and widely found in celery. This is known to have a variety of properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti cancer effects. 12 A study performed on celery leaves noted that the leaves were comprised of 41-57% antioxidants. 13

Cancer cells generally require the formation of new blood vessels during their progression. Flavinoids such as luteolin present in celery effectively inhibit the formation of new blood vessels and thereby limit the progression of the cancer cells. They are also known to induce cell death in the cancerous cells and prevent the occurrence of cancers. Furthermore, it has also been noted that celery accentuates the effects of anticancer medications and helps healing cancers at a faster pace. This property of celery is being studied widely and the benefits of celery in cancer prevention and treatment are being evaluated. 12, 14


Cucumber is believed to have originated in India and is now grown and consumed around the world. It is available in different varieties that vary based on the region it is grown. Cucumber is used in the preparation of several dishes as well as consumed raw. Cucumber is believed to contain significant amounts of antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C. However, certain studies have revealed that although cucumber does contain antioxidants and vitamin C their concentration is not particularily high. 15-17 Nevertheless, it is a part of both weight loss and vegetarian diets and is widely used around the world. Its high water and fiber content makes it a widely consumed vegetable. 18


Spinach has high antioxidant levels that are noted to benefit a wide number of conditions, including heart disorder. Formation of several compounds that are able to oxidize the cells and tissues of the heart is one of the main factors responsible for the occurrence of heart disorders. Consumption of vegetables such as spinach that contain antioxidants is useful in preventing the accumulation of such substances. A study noted that consumption of several anticancer medications were associated with formation of molecules in the body that may have detrimental effects on the heart. The risk of heart failure and other associated conditions is increased with the regular use of anticancer drugs. Spinach consumption effectively reduces these effects and protects the heart from various disorders that affect the functioning of the heart. Consumption of spinach is also considered as a safe and effective way to alleviate the toxic side effects of the anticancer drugs. Furthermore, spinach also contains flavonoids which are beneficial in reducing the cholesterol and thus protect the heart. 19, 20


Tomato contains high levels of a substance known as lycopene, an effective antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals. Increased oxidative action of several substances including free radicals is noted to be the cause of various disorders. Such effects are commonly noted on the heart which frequently results in heart failure and other associated conditions. Regular consumption of tomatoes that are rich source oflycopeneeffectively protects the heart from such effects and helps it to function normally. Several animal studies have reported the heart protective effects of tomato. 21, 22

One study was performed to evaluate the benefits of tomato on human subjects suffering from high blood pressure and who were not able to regulate their blood pressure levels with medications. It was noted in the study that regular consumption of tomatoes along with the medications significantly decreasedblood pressure levels. 23 Another study concluded that tomato consumption reduced the occurrence of prostate cancer in individuals with high risk of prostate cancer. 24



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  8. Oboh G, Rocha JB. Hot Pepper (Capsicum spp.) protects brain from sodium nitroprusside- and quinolinic acid-induced oxidative stress in vitro. J Med Food. 2008 Jun;11(2):349-55.
  9. Baranska M, Baranski R, Schulz H, Nothnagel T. Tissue-specific accumulation of carotenoids in carrot roots. Planta. 2006 Oct;224(5):1028-37. Epub 2006 May 13.
  10. Saxena R, Venkaiah K, Anitha P, Venu L, Raghunath M. Antioxidant activity of commonly consumed plant foods of India: contribution of their phenolic content. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007 Jun;58(4):250-60.
  11. Sun T, Simon PW, Tanumihardjo SA. Antioxidant Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Capacity of Biofortified Carrots ( Daucus carota L.) of Various Colors. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Apr 9.
  12. López-Lázaro M. Distribution and biological activities of the flavonoid luteolin. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009 Jan;9(1):31-59.
  13. Yildiz L, Başkan KS, Tütem E, Apak R. Combined HPLC-CUPRAC (cupric ion reducing antioxidant capacity) assay of parsley, celery leaves, and nettle. Talanta. 2008 Oct 19;77(1):304-13. Epub 2008 Jun 27.
  14. Kolarovic J, Popovic M, Mikov M, Mitic R, Gvozdenovic L. Protective effects of celery juice in treatments with Doxorubicin. Molecules. 2009 Apr 24;14(4):1627-38.
  15. Stratil P, Klejdus B, Kubán V. Determination of total content of phenolic compounds and their antioxidant activity in vegetables--evaluation of spectrophotometric methods. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 8;54(3):607-16.
  16. Iqbal MP, Kazim SF, Mehboobali N. Ascorbic acid contents of Pakistani fruits and vegetables. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2006 Oct;19(4):282-5.
  17. Araya H, Clavijo C, Herrera C. Antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables cultivated in Chile. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2006 Dec;56(4):361-5.
  18. Duke J. The Green Pharmacy. St Martin's Press; 1997
  19. Piasek A, Bartoszek A, Namieśnik J. Phytochemicals that counteract the cardiotoxic side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2009 Apr 17;63:142-58.
  20. Otaki N, Kimira M, Katsumata S, Uehara M, Watanabe S, Suzuki K. Distribution and major sources of flavonoid intakes in the middle-aged Japanese women. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009 May;44(3):231-8. Epub 2009 Apr 25.
  21. Parvin R, Akhter N. Protective effect of tomato against adrenaline-induced myocardial infarction in rats. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull. 2008 Dec;34(3):104-8.
  22. Erdman JW Jr, Ford NA, Lindshield BL. Are the health attributes of lycopene related to its antioxidant function? ch Biochem Biophys. 2009 Mar 15;483(2):229-35. Epub 2008 Nov 1.
  23. Paran E, Novack V, Engelhard YN, Hazan-Halevy I. The effects of natural antioxidants from tomato extract in treated but uncontrolled hypertensive patients. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2009 Apr;23(2):145-51. Epub 2008 Dec 4.
  24. Paran E, Novack V, Engelhard YN, Hazan-Halevy I. The effects of natural antioxidants from tomato extract in treated but uncontrolled hypertensive patients. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2009 Apr;23(2):145-51. Epub 2008 Dec 4.
  25. Chan R, Lok K, Woo J. Prostate cancer and vegetable consumption. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Feb;53(2):201-16.

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