3/23/2021 0 Comments
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They are linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Your body has its own antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals in check. However, antioxidants are also found in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Vitamins such as E and C, are effective antioxidants.
Free radicals are constantly being formed in your body and serve important functions that are essential for health. For example, your immune cells use free radicals to fight infections. As a result, your body needs to maintain a certain balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a state called oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. Sometimes it even leads to cell death. Damage to your DNA increases your risk of cancer and plays a pivotal role in the aging process.
Several lifestyle, stress, and environmental factors are known to promote excessive free radical formation and oxidative stress, including:
Prolonged oxidative stress leads to an increased risk of negative health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
Antioxidants in foods
Antioxidants are essential for the survival of all living things. Your body generates its own antioxidants, such as the cellular antioxidant glutathione. Antioxidants are found in all whole foods of plant and animal origin.
Adequate antioxidant intake is important. In fact, your life depends on the intake of certain antioxidants — namely, vitamins A, C, and selenium.
The health benefits associated with a diet rich in plants is at least partially due to the variety of antioxidants they provide.
Berries, vegetables, green tea, and dark chocolate are renowned for being good sources of antioxidants. Meat products and fish also contain antioxidants, but to a lesser extent than fruits and vegetables.
Types of dietary antioxidants
Antioxidants can be categorized as either water- or fat-soluble.
Water-soluble antioxidants perform their actions in the fluid inside and outside cells, whereas fat-soluble ones act primarily in cell membranes.
Important dietary antioxidants include:
Many substances that happen to be antioxidants also have other important functions. These include curcuminoids in turmeric and oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil. These substances function as antioxidants but also have potent anti-inflammatory activity.
Should you take antioxidant supplements?
Dietary intake of antioxidants is essential for optimal health, but more is not always better.
Excessive intake of isolated antioxidants can have toxic effects and may even promote rather than prevent oxidative damage. For this reason, most health professionals advise people to avoid high dose antioxidant supplements,
Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich whole food is a much better idea. Studies indicate that foods reduce oxidative damage to a greater extent than supplements. These results suggest that foods’ compounds work synergistically. Taking just one or two isolated nutrients will not have the same beneficial effects.
The best strategy to ensure adequate antioxidant intake is to follow a diet rich in various vegetables and fruits, alongside other healthy habits. However, low-dose supplements, such as multivitamins, may be beneficial if you are deficient in certain nutrients or unable to follow a healthy diet.
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The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units.
These whole foods have a high ORAC score…therefore are great sources of antioxidants.
Herbs & Spices
Green Tea and chocolate contain a high ORAC value and are top of the list for their antioxidant properties.
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