Antioxidants are substances found in fresh, whole foods that reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

There are a lot of antioxidant supplements that are being promoted for their health benefits - to reverse aging, to increase strength and endurance, to boost the immune system, etc.

A lot of superfoods are being heavily promoted for their antioxidant properties.

From all this, we get the message that antioxidant supplements and superfoods are essential for good health.

But how much should you take and can you take too much?

First of all, we need to put a few things into perspective.

- Not all free radicals are bad. They're part of the normal biochemical processes that occur in your body. While many have harmful effects, others do not.
- Our bodies need oxidants and antioxidants in the proper balance. Taking too many antioxidants can be as bad as not getting enough.
- Different antioxidants have different functions. If you supplement with specific antioxidants, are you sure you're giving your body what it really needs?

Antioxidants are abundant in fresh whole foods, both plant and animal. You don't have to take high potency antioxidant supplements or superfoods to get the antioxidants your body needs. You just need to eat real, whole foods that are antioxidant rich.

If you do choose to take the supplements, you should be certain that the antioxidant supplement is not a synthetic version of the real thing, and it is something that your body needs.

If you're not sure that you really need that particular antioxidant or superfood, you're better off getting your antioxidants from real, whole foods.

Some animal foods that are rich sources of antioxidants include

- wild caught salmon - astaxanthin
- eggs - lutein
- pasture-fed dairy - glutathione

Other foods rich in antioxidants

- green tea
- white tea
- rooibos tea
- berries
- cherries
- onions
- eggplant
- cabbage
- pomegranates
- red grapes
- olives
- extra virgin olive oil
- tomatoes
- watermelon
- Indian gooseberry
- broccoli
- radishes
- beets
- leafy greens
- dark chocolate

Spices containing antioxidants

- cloves
- cinnamon
- oregano
- rosemary
- thyme

Botanically infused water is another way of adding antioxidants to your daily food intake without overdoing it.

But wait!

Are all these antioxidant foods and superfoods healthy for you? How do you know which ones you should eat?

Before you go out and start stocking up on these antioxidant-rich foods, there's one more thing you need to know.

Just because they're supposed to be nutrient dense and healthful, doesn't mean they'll be healthy for you.

For example, I am severely sensitive to salmon. It doesn't matter that salmon is supposed to have wonderful health benefits, for me it is NOT a healthy food.

If you have a sensitivity or intolerance to any of these foods, or any other foods, eating your intolerant foods will cause an inflammatory reaction in your body and your health will decline.

Food sensitivities, also known as hidden food allergies, are common and most people don't know they have them. With a food sensitivity, your reaction to the food is delayed anywhere from three hours to three days after you've eaten it.

A food sensitivity reaction can be almost any symptom of less than perfect health, but most commonly digestive problems, migraine headaches, joint pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue, skin disorders, obesity, ADD/ADHD and more.

If you're challenged by any health issues that just don't want to go away, you may have food sensitivities.

How do you find out?

You can try an elimination diet. However, this is a long, frustrating and tedious process. Most people don't stick with it long enough to get results.

A quicker and easier way is the ALCAT Test. "It is the most effective and comprehensive sensitivity/intolerance test available. It is the only test shown to correlate with clinical symptoms by double blind oral challenges, the gold standard."

Note: This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have health problems, consult your physician.

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2012, Christine H. Farlow, D.C., customizing nutritional programs to meet your unique nutritional needs. Dr. Farlow provides nutritional consultations in her office and by phone. Request a FREE Consultation to learn more about food sensitivities and how the ALCAT Test can help you to improve your health at