What are Antioxidants?

The cells in your body face threats every day. Which are targeted by viruses and infection. Free radicals can also damage your cells and your DNA. Some cells can repair the damage, while others can't. Scientists believe that free radical molecules can contribute to the aging process. They may also play a role in illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Antioxidants are chemicals that help avoid or reduce the harm that free radicals can do. Your body is using antioxidants to balance free radicals. This prevents them from damaging other cells. Antioxidants can prevent some of the damage and can reverse it. They enhance your immunity too.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances which can stop or delay cell damage caused by free radicals and unstable molecules formed by the body in response to environmental and other pressures.

Sometimes they are referred to as "free-radical scavengers."

The body also develops other antioxidants which are known as endogenous antioxidants. Antioxidants coming from outside the body are called exogenous.

Antioxidants are however also found in food, especially in fruits, vegetables and other whole plant foods. Vitamins E, C, etc. are important antioxidants for all of these vitamins.

Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidants can protect against cell damage caused by free radicals, known as oxidative stress.

Activities and processes which could result in oxidative stress include:

  • Smoking

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Air pollution

  • toxins

  • Radiation

  • Environmental exposure

  • Eating certain foods particularly refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners

  • Over-exercising

These activities and exposure may result in cell damage.

Damage from oxidative stress has been associated with cancer, atherosclerosis and loss of vision. The free radicals are thought to cause changes in the cells that lead to these conditions, and probably other.

It is known that an intake of antioxidants decreases those risks.

Types of Antioxidants:

Hundreds and probably thousands of substances are thought to be capable of functioning as antioxidants. -- one has their own purpose and can communicate with others to help the body function efficiently.

"Antioxidant" is not necessarily a substance 's name, but rather represents what a variety of substances can do.

The following are examples of antioxidants that comes from outside the body:

  • lycopene

  • lutein

  • selenium

  • manganese

  • zeaxanthin

  • vitamin A

  • vitamin C

  • vitamin E

  • beta-carotene

Flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens are all types of antioxidants and phytonutrients, and they are all found in plant-based foods.

Every antioxidant serves different purpose and cannot be interchanged with another. This is why it is important to have a varied diet.

Tips to increase Antioxidant Intake:

  • Every time you eat, include a fruit or a vegetable, including meals and snacks.

  • Munch on nuts, seeds and dried fruit, but choose those with no added sugar or salt.

  • Check the colors on your plate. If your diet is mainly brown or beige, the amount of antioxidants is likely to be small. Add rich colored foods, such as kale, beets and berries.

  • Have a cup of green or matcha tea each day.

  • Use turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove, and cinnamon to spice up your meals' flavor and antioxidant content.

To Sum It Up

Adequate consumption of antioxidants is important for a balanced diet, although some research indicate that high-dose supplements are potentially harmful.

The best approach is to take your daily dose of antioxidants from good plant products, including fruits and vegetables.

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