Vitamin E Foods, Health Benefits, and Recipes


When it comes to wellness, nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin D often steal the show—and for good reason, too. Among other key health benefits, these vitamins are essential for immune function, a hot topic in the wellness world. But what about other important nutrients, like vitamin E? It may not get as much attention as other vitamins, but this antioxidant-rich vitamin is just as crucial for your health. Here’s what to know about the health benefits of vitamin E, plus foods rich in vitamin E to eat for healthy skin, hair, immunity, and more.


Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it needs fat in order to be absorbed. It mainly functions as an antioxidant, or a beneficial molecule that fights free radicals. A quick refresher: Free radicals are compounds that, when present in high levels, can cause cellular damage. The body naturally produces free radicals as a result of normal processes (think: metabolism), but factors like environmental pollution and UV radiation can increase free radical formation. If these free radicals build up, they can lead to cellular damage and oxidative stress, a major contributor to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer, according to research. But that’s where antioxidants like vitamin E come in. Generally, antioxidants work by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals, ultimately rendering them harmless. This protects your cells from oxidative stress, keeping them (and you!) healthy and well.


More Vitamin E Benefits

In the case of vitamin E, its antioxidant actions are particularly impressive. For example, it helps protect cell membranes from free radicals, which is key for preventing cellular injury. According to registered dietitian Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RDN, its antioxidant properties also have “the ability to protect the skin from sun damage while stabilizing the skin’s barrier.” But it doesn’t stop there—vitamin E supports skin health by maintaining levels of collagen (the main structural protein in the skin), as well as hair growth, Pasquariello says. This nutrient is also involved in aiding immune function and proper blood flow, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Simply put, vitamin E is a crucial compound for overall health and wellness. Vitamin E deficiency is pretty rare, but since the body can’t produce its own vitamin E, you need to get it from elsewhere. Luckily it’s found in myriad plant foods, so it’s not hard to reach the recommended amount of 15 milligrams per day, per the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Below are some high vitamin-E foods to eat regularly, according to nutritionists.


Healthy Vitamin E Food Sources


Nuts

Con Poulos


Almonds are one of the highest sources of vitamin E, closely followed by hazelnuts, says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating from Our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World. Case in point: A one-ounce serving of almonds contains about 7 milligrams of vitamin E, while the same amount of hazelnuts contains about 4 milligrams. “These nuts are also great sources of dietary fiber and heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats,” Feller adds. You can enjoy them in the form of nut butters, which taste delicious on top of toast, in smoothies, or mixed into oatmeal, adds Marissa Meshulam, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of MPM Nutrition.



Seeds

Victor Protasio


The next time you’re craving something crunchy, reach for plant seeds. Sunflower seeds are particularly rich in vitamin E, according to Meshulam. For context, an eight-ounce serving (about ¼ cup) holds roughly 7 milligrams of vitamin E, which is nearly half the daily recommended amount. That’s on top of other nutrients found in sunflower seeds, like iron, calcium, magnesium, and fiber, Pasquariello says. Sunflower seeds (and plant seeds in general) add flavor and texture to myriad dishes, including oatmeal, yogurt, salads, and soups.

RELATED: 6 Health Benefits of Snacking on Pumpkin Seeds



Nut and Seed Oils

Caitlin Bensel


Since seeds and nuts contain vitamin E, it’s no surprise that their oils are just as noteworthy. According to Meshulam, sunflower and wheat germ oil are particularly rich in the nutrient, though they have different applications. Sunflower oil “is a very stable oil, so [it] can be used in high-heat cooking,” she explains. Meanwhile, wheat germ oil has a lower smoke point, so it should be used in salad dressings or drizzled over cooked dishes.



Leafy Greens

Victor Protasio


There’s a lot to love about leafy greens. They’re versatile, delicious, and packed with vitamin E (among plenty of other powerful nutrients). Some of the best options include spinach and Swiss chard, which both offer about 2 milligrams of vitamin E per half cup. Even the leafy tops of beets contain this vitamin, giving you an excellent reason to use the vegetable. In general, leafy greens of any variety are easy to incorporate into dishes. Try adding them to a stir fry, breakfast hash, soups, stews, or chili right at the end of cooking, Pasquariello suggests. For a more greens-forward approach, simply sauté leafy greens with garlic and spices, then enjoy as a simple side dish.



Avocado

Greg DuPree


Great news, avocado fans: The creamy fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) is another awesome source of vitamin E, offering about 4 milligrams for half an avocado (100 grams). “Other nutrients in avocado include potassium, vitamin K, and riboflavin,” Pasquariello says, adding that avocado also contains fiber, which is “vital for healthy digestion, lowering cholesterol, maintaining blood sugar levels, and promoting longevity.”



Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Sauces, and Tomato Paste


Known for its convenience and delicious flavor, canned tomato sauce helps you meet your daily quota for vitamin E. One cup of tomato sauce offers more than 3.5 milligrams, along with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Simply add a few seasonings and extra veggies (like those leafy greens) and enjoy with pasta, pizza, stews, and so much more.


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