Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally in the body as a result of normal metabolic processes, but they can also be caused by exposure to environmental toxins such as pollution, radiation, and chemicals. When there are too many free radicals in the body, they can damage cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidants work by neutralising free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to cells. Some common antioxidants include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium. These antioxidants can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as well as in supplements.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get antioxidants. Some of the best sources include:
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Whole grains
- Tea (green and black)
It is important to note that taking antioxidant supplements is not recommended as a replacement for a healthy diet, as getting antioxidants from natural sources is the best way to get the full range of benefits. However, some people may benefit from taking antioxidant supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
In summary, antioxidants are essential for good health as they help protect the body against the damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way to get antioxidants, but supplements can also be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
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Benefits of antioxidants for health
- Protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Help to prevent inflammation in the body, which is a contributing factor in many chronic health conditions.
- Support the immune system and help to boost the body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
- Promote healthy ageing by slowing down the ageing process and reducing the risk of age-related diseases.
- Improve skin health by protecting the skin from sun damage and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
- Support eye health by protecting the eyes from free radical damage and reducing the risk of age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels, improving blood flow and reducing inflammation in the cardiovascular system.
- Support liver health by protecting the liver from toxins and helping to detoxify the body.
- Help to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
- Support healthy digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and reducing the risk of inflammatory gut disorders.
Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants
- Fruits: Many fruits are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and provide a variety of health benefits. These include tomatoes, figs, cherries, pears, guava, oranges, apricots, red grapes, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, red currants, red grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, and red currants.
- Vegetables: Antioxidants are found in abundance in broccoli, spinach, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, beets, radishes, lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, collard greens, and kale.
- Spices and Herbs: Cooking with a lot of spices is beneficial. Many are rich in antioxidants, including cardamom, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, curry powder, mustard seed, ginger, pepper, and chilli powder. Sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, peppermint, oregano, savoury, basil, and dill weed are examples of herbs. All are rich in antioxidants and add variety and taste to your meals.
- Dried Fruits:When the water is taken out, dried fruits have a higher antioxidant ratio than fresh ones. They make an easy, quick-snack that is also nutritious to carry around in your handbag, briefcase, or car. Think about bringing dried fruit like raisins, figs, dates, apples, plums, and peaches. But watch out for the sugar content; stay away from dried fruits that have been sweetened with processed sweeteners.
- Cereals and Nuts: Additionally, nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, macadamias, and even that peanut butter sandwich are packed with beneficial fats.
- Strawberries: One of the most consumed berries worldwide is the strawberry. They are delicious, adaptable, and a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Strawberries contain up to 5.4 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 oz., according to a FRAP investigation (100 g). In addition, strawberries have a red colour because of a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. Brighter-coloured strawberries typically have higher anthocyanin content.
- Raspberries: Raspberries are a popular ingredient in desserts because they are soft and tangy. The dietary fibre, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants they contain are all excellent sources. Raspberries contain up to 4 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 oz (100 g), according to a FRAP investigation. Antioxidants and other elements in raspberries have been associated in several studies to lower risks of cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants are substances that your body naturally produces. They are also present in several foods.
They defend your body against potentially dangerous free radicals, which can build up and encourage oxidative stress. Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses are all made more likely by oxidative stress.