There’s a lot of talk around antioxidants and why one must consume foods rich in antioxidants. It’s used in general conversation when discussing healthy diets and lifestyle, but very few people actually know what antioxidants are, and what they do.
TABIIB helps you understand what antioxidants are, what they do, and why they’re important.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are organic substances that counteract, or slow, the effect of oxidation to tissues in our body. Considering that oxygen is an essential part of life – there’s still a reason why excessive oxidation is considered harmful for our tissues.
Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs when a substance is exposed to oxygen. When our cells metabolize oxygen, it creates by-products known as ‘free radicals’ which steal electrons from other molecules. The harmful effect this can have on our tissues ranges from damaged cell membranes to compromised DNA structures.
Our body does need some amount of free radicals to function, however an excess of them can cause serious problems such as heart disease, liver failure, and accelerated aging.
This is also the reason why antioxidants are called ‘free radical scavengers’ since their function is to prevent the excess formation of these by-products.
Why Do We Need Them?
A research paper concluded that many of humanity’s degenerative diseases can be traced to the damage that free radicals cause. To keep them in check, people must supplement the body’s naturally occurring antioxidants via external sources as well.
The effects of oxidation can be made worse due to overexposure to sunlight, pollution, stress, and other factors. Hence, it’s imperative that we combat the damaging effects of oxidation by engaging in preventative care.
Antioxidants protect against cell damage that free radicals cause, known as oxidative stress. According to one study, antioxidant supplements can reduce vision loss due to macular degeneration in older people.
To neutralize the damaging effect of oxidation, it’s important to consume foods that are high in antioxidants. Nutrient antioxidants can be obtained from foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals like zinc, selenium and copper. The non-nutrient antioxidants like phytochemicals are found in plants – which are believed to have a stronger effect than vitamins and minerals.
The benefits of consuming antioxidant rich foods are:
-Reduced risk of cancer
-Improved skin health and resistance
-Longer life span
Sources of Antioxidants
The best sources of antioxidants are plant-based foods, especially fruits and vegetables. The health benefits that a diet rich in plants give you is mainly due to the many antioxidants that they provide. If you’re looking to increase common antioxidants in your body, try adding these foods to your diet:
-For Vitamin A
Carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, and cantaloupe.
–For Vitamin C
Citrus fruits such as oranges and limes, sweet peppers, leafy greens, strawberries.
–For Vitamin E
Nuts and seeds, whole grains, vegetable oil, liver oil
Dairy products such as eggs, shellfish, meat, and chicken
Antioxidants are frequently used as food additives because they’re known to increase the shelf life of natural and processed foods.
The Best Way To Consume Antioxidants
Adequate antioxidant intake is essential for good health, and the best way to ensure that is to maintain a healthy diet. Here are a few tips on how you can consume foods that give you the antioxidants you need, effectively:
-Preparation of food is key. Steaming and cooking food on low heat is the best way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
-Eat colourful food. This includes a mix of fruits and vegetables. Aim to eat at least 3 different colour foods every day.
-Add spices to your cooking. Turmeric, cumin, and ginger are all excellent sources of antioxidants.
Another recommendation is to add antioxidant supplements to your daily diet. However, an overdose of these is also bad for your body. It’s always best to consult a health provider before making dietary changes. You can consult a dietitian online on TABIIB.