Everyone has heard a lot of talk about antioxidants but not many know exactly how they work.
We have read the word "antioxidants" in so many product labels that it sounds absolutely familiar. But do we really know what they are?
What are they?
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’re linked to multiple illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
If your body’s own antioxidant defenses are not enough, you can always find antioxidants in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants. Antioxidant preservatives also play a crucial role in food production by increasing shelf life.
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.
It is very important to be aware of your antioxidant intake. In fact, your life depends on the intake of certain antioxidants — namely, vitamins C and E.
The health benefits associated with a diet rich in plants is in part due to the variety of antioxidants they provide.
Berries, green tea, coffee, and dark chocolate are renowned for being good sources of antioxidants.
According to some studies, coffee is the single biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, but this is partly because the average individual doesn’t eat that many antioxidant-rich foods.
Meat and fish also contain antioxidants but not as much as you found in vegetables or fruits.
Antioxidants can increase the shelf life of both natural and processed foods. Therefore, they’re frequently used as food additives. For example, vitamin C is often added to processed foods to act as a preservative.
Important dietary antioxidants include:
• Vitamin C. This water-soluble antioxidant is an essential dietary nutrient.
• Vitamin E. This fat-soluble antioxidant protect cell membranes against oxidative damage.
• Flavonoids. This group of plant antioxidants has many beneficial health effects.