What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nature’s way to protect your body from the damaging free radicals. Free radicals are molecules which are generated by exposure to sun, stress and the natural aging process of your body. Antioxidants prevent free radical induced tissue damage by preventing the formation of radicals, scavenging them, or by promoting their decomposition. Antioxidants have their own complex way to fight free radicals.
Some of such antioxidants, including glutathione, ubiquinol, and uric acid, are produced during normal metabolism in the body.
Antioxidants can be categorized into two types:
- Vitamin Based
- Enzyme Based
(Vitamins like vitamin C, E and A and enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase etc. are examples of antioxidants.)
In simple terms, antioxidants help our bodies to prevent many degenerative diseases like cancer, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and others. Also, a diet rich in antioxidants helps our skin look younger and feel soft. They promote weight loss, better blood circulation, improved sleep, relief from menstrual symptoms, better memory and concentration power.
To keep your body functions in sync, you can either reduce the formation of free radicals in your body or increase the concentration of antioxidants in our diet.
Free radical production can be reduced by minimizing exposure to the sun, applying sun protective cream and reducing stress by getting involved in meditation, yoga etc. A diet rich in antioxidants will not only cut down the effect of free radicals but those foods have various added benefits for the body.
Foods Rich In Antioxidants
Freshly harvested vegetables have a high concentration of antioxidants. Majorly green leafy vegetables and those containing carotenoids like carrots, bell peppers etc. are rich in antioxidants. To gain maximum benefit from these vegetables they should be consumed raw or in juice form. The pulp of the juice should not be discarded rather it should be mixed along with the juice and consumed. Sprouts also have a good effect on our body. They enhance absorption of many nutrients including protein.
Fruits rich in vitamin C like all citrus fruits (orange, mango, berries, and guava) etc., berries are rich in phytochemicals which inhibit the DNA binding capacity of certain carcinogens. Though fruits are nutritionally dense but they have high fructose concentration which increases the production of free radicals.
Herbs and spices
Herbs are obtained from plants.
Whereas spices, from various parts of the tree for example:
Everything obtained directly from nature and consumed has high nutritive value than anything processed and then consumed. Similarly, spices when consumed in natural form rather than after drying or grounding provide more antioxidants and aroma. For example: fresh garlic has 1.5 times better antioxidant activity than dried ones. Other herbs and spices rich in antioxidants are: oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger etc.
Pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts apart from having high antioxidant value prove to be good at maintaining heart health.
Beans and Dals (Pulses, Legumes, Lentils)
Red beans, black beans, soya beans are rich in flavonoids, folate and various vitamins and minerals.
Organic Green Tea
It contains one of the most powerful antioxidants – EGCG. It lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, enhances fat metabolism etc. Many times EGCG quality is hampered during processing and packaging of this green tea. To obtain maximum benefit, fresh green tea leaves should be used.
Read Also: All About Green Tea That You Should Know
Some recommended lifestyle changes
Reducing sugar intake
Sugar intake promotes the activity of free radicals increasing their damage causing capacity. All aerated beverages and some fruits have a high quantity of sugar. They should be consumed in moderation.
If done in a proper guidance, it can help increase antioxidant levels of the body. Doing high-intensity exercise in a short duration of time is recommended. Exercises that increase stress on heart should be avoided as they will promote free radical activity rather than helping antioxidants.
Smoking has numerous ill effects on your body. Smoking or being around people who smoke harms our body. The smoke damages your skin and reduces its ability to absorb nutrients leading to earlier aging of the skin. Also smoking enhances free radical metabolism speeding up the aging process. Another potential harm caused by smoking is lung cancer.
The right amount of sleep
Your body is a working machine which needs ample of amount of rest. No one can work continuously. Sleeping too less or more can harm our body. We need to feel fresh and sorted to do any kind of work. Thus, sleeping 6-8 hours every night is important for adults.
In order to ensure you get all kinds of antioxidants in your diet, it is mandatory to include a variety of foods in your diet chart. Every person’s body has its own absorption capacity and thus, it varies from person to person how their body utilizes the nutrients present in their diet.
Read Also: Why You Should Include Fiber In Your Diet
Eat healthy, feel healthy!
Proofread and Edited by Jane Vivian