WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?
We hear a lot about antioxidants and products that are rich in antioxidants. But little do we think of going deeper into the subject and discovering more about it.
So today, we shall dive into the topic of ‘antioxidants’ and learn its impact on the human body.
Antioxidants are molecules that help protect cells in the body from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that can cause oxidative stress and damage cells, proteins, and DNA. This damage is associated with various diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and ageing.
Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, thereby preventing or reducing the damage they can cause. They do this by donating an electron to the free radicals, which stabilizes them and stops them from causing further harm. Antioxidants can also break down and remove the free radicals from the body.
There are various types of antioxidants, including vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E, minerals such as selenium and zinc, and phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and carotenoids. These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Rich Sources of Antioxidants
Several foods are known to be rich sources of antioxidants. Given below are some of the best foods that are rich in antioxidant properties.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all packed with antioxidants such as anthocyanins and vitamin C.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa contains flavonoids and other antioxidants that can benefit health.
- Pecans: Pecans are a type of nut that contains high levels of antioxidants, including ellagic acid.
- Artichokes: Artichokes are a good source of antioxidants.
- Spinach: Spinach is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein.
- Green tea: Green tea is a popular beverage known for its high antioxidant content, particularly catechins.
- Red grapes: Red grapes and their byproducts, such as red wine, contain resveratrol, a potent antioxidant.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant associated with various health benefits.
- Turmeric: Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant.
- Kale: Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable that provides antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and K.
- Beans: Various beans, including kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans, contain antioxidants such as anthocyanins and flavonols.
These are just a few examples, and many more foods are rich in antioxidants. Including a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and spices in your diet can help ensure a good intake of antioxidants.
Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants is important for overall health and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, it’s important to note that while antioxidants play a beneficial role in the body, research on their specific effects and optimal intake levels is ongoing. It is generally recommended to obtain antioxidants through a balanced diet rather than relying solely on supplements, as whole foods provide a variety of other beneficial nutrients.
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