Antioxidants – What Are They?

Antioxidants are nutrients that are present in the food that we consume. You can also purchase various nutritional supplements that are chalk full of antioxidants. Antioxidants can repair and prevent oxidative damage that often occurs to our body. Bi-products are naturally produced in our bodies when our body cells use oxygen. This can be very damaging to our health but antioxidants intercept these bi-products and help prevent them from causing such conditions as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

We know antioxidants more commonly as foods that are rich in vitamin A and cartenoids such as carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, kale, cantaloupe, peaches, collards, and apricots. Foods rich in vitamin C are the whole citrus fruit family, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables. Foods that are rich in vitamin E are whole grains, nuts and seeds, vegetable and liver oils, and again green leafy vegetables. Selenium is also important as an antioxidant and can be found in foods like the fish family, red meat, garlic, chicken, grains, and eggs. If you notice some foods like green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and strawberries show up in multiple vitamin and antioxidant families. These would be fantastic choices as they would provide multiple food benefits.

Antioxidants further break down into other categories such as flavonoids and polyphenols. These include soy, red wine, purple grapes, pomegranates, tea and cranberries. We want to eat foods that are rich in lycopene and lutein such as tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruits, dark green vegetables, especially spinach, brussel sprouts, kiwi, kale, and broccoli.

We are always hearing about the health benefits of antioxidants and how they prevent heart disease, ward off cancers and dementia, and they may even slow the aging process. The above mentioned foods are loaded with antioxidants but antioxidants are also found in some foods that would not necessarily be considered “healthy” foods, like the foods mentioned above, such as chocolate, coffee, and red wine which can deliver many beneficial antioxidants.

Antioxidants are responsible for preventing oxidation but they really do a whole lot more too such as reducing inflammation and to keep our arteries flexible. The way that each antioxidant is delivered will be responsible for the part of the body that it is most effective for. In other words, such foods as berries, which are full of flavonoids, would better improve artery health and since spinach is full of lutein would be best for preventing macular degeneration.

Of course all of us would love to eat a perfectly balanced diet rich in all the above-mentioned foods but that isn’t always reality. Antioxidants are also available in nutritional supplements. The popular acai berry juice is loaded with antioxidants. A small dose once per day is all you need to ensure you’re fighting that free radical damage that can be so harmful to your health.