To understand what antioxidants are and how they work, it’s helpful to know a bit about how oxidation affects the body. The process of oxidation happens as our bodies’ process the oxygen that we breathe and our cells then produce energy from it.
We must now understand the key word *Antioxidant*
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds or substances that are found in food that works and fights against free radicals produced as a result of oxidation. Naturally, they are found in many foods, especially plants. They help ward off cell damage by “cleansing” waste products in the cells, before they do any harm.
You may now be asking yourself, what really a free radical is.”
“‘Free radicals’ in general term is used to define compounds that are highly reactive, which means that it can attach and bind to ultimately damage normal cells in the body. Let’s know that in exception of internal sources, “Free radicals” can be also caused by outside sources too such as smoking or toxins. Thus, we can control it to an extent for example by not overeating fried foods or smoking.
Though the body has in-built defenses to reduce the effect of free radicals, it could still use some foreign help. That’s where antioxidants come in to support.
There are many plants that contain compounds that act as antioxidants.
Let’s check below:
Properties found in Antioxidants and their related foods.
- Beta-carotene: found in apricots, mangoes, pawpaw, peppers, spinach and sweet potatoes. Foods high in beta-carotene appear to be associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
- Vitamin E: found in almonds, avocado, leafy green vegetables, liver, olives, peanuts, seeds, vegetable oils, walnuts and wheat.
- Vitamin C: found in broccoli, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes. (The vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties are essential nutrients thus, we need them for other aspects of our health.)
- Phytochemicals Certain phytochemicals in these foods are recognized as antioxidants such as onions, garlic tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, turmeric, grapes, strawberries, cherries, apples, grapefruit, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage, natural cocoa powder, cauliflower, cabbage, citrus fruit peels, nuts , mushrooms among others
- Selenium: found in some nuts, brown rice, beef, chicken, whole wheat bread and seafood. Not forgetting flavonoid which is also a mineral, it can also be found in fruits, red wine, and green teas. These are antioxidant- rich foods but are certainly not limited to these. You can also get antioxidant supplements: but expects say it is best obtained from a healthy diet.
What antioxidants seek to do?
Antioxidants have come to save the day by helping to stop the reaction shortly after it starts, while some prevent the reaction from starting. Do you remember some foods that change color after being exposed to air? Yes. They are also there with the same properties that will help to protect our bodies from molecular damage.
Antioxidants play that special role in the management or prevention of some medical conditions, such as cancers and some arthritis-related conditions.
Wondering the sources of antioxidants?
Until more research is done, it is best to get your antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables rather than from supplements. No single antioxidant has been set aside to protect the body neither does one particular plant contain the amount of antioxidant needed for the body. Most people are therefore expected to eat at least between 5- 10 fruits a day.
Remember always to tell your doctor if you are using any form of dietary supplement or if you are combining a dietary supplement with your regular medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your regular medical treatment. This information is very key especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Most nutrition experts agree that, the very best way to get your antioxidants is to eat them fresh and mostly raw. For someone who is already healthy, just know that eating a wide variety of healthy foods will allow your body to maintain its balance.
Make one great lifestyle change today by adding antioxidants to your diet that is, eating vegetables and fruit in every color of the hue circle. Well, I believe there are many other foods that are rich in antioxidants as well. Find them and be nice to share with us all.Stay tuned for some more articles on other topics pertaining to our health. Meanwhile, what is your preferred antioxidant-rich food? I’d love to hear from you!