Antioxidants Are The Guardians of Your Body’s CellsNovember 11, 2022 - Updated November 11, 2022
It should go without saying that maintaining good health goes together with a good and nutritious diet. Whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables all contain essential nutrition that provides your body with the energy it needs to carry out cellular functions, prevent disease, and maintain overall well-being. Antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those categories. You may already be familiar with antioxidants. Increased public awareness regarding antioxidants has been experienced as of late, in addition to facts about antioxidants being used more and more in marketing and advertising.
The goal here is to help you understand what antioxidants are and how they benefit your body. As a result, you will be able to make more informed choices about your diet. Remember, as well, to get plenty of exercise to stay as healthy as possible throughout your life.
Let's start with offering a bit of information to help you better understand oxidants and the role they play in your body. Then we'll follow it up with some facts about antioxidants and their benefits. We'll wrap everything up with a quick FAQ section.
What are Antioxidants and Oxidants?Oxidants are free radicals that cause chemical reactions with other molecules in your body, a process known as oxidation. Oxidation occurs naturally through internal bodily processes, but becomes imbalanced due to external causes including the following:
- Air pollution
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise, etc.
Oxidative stress then causes inflammation and cell damage. Some notable chronic diseases caused by oxidative stress include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Heart disease
This is, of course, an oversimplification of a complicated phenomenon. For those interested on a deeper level, you can find more information about it here.
Oxidants aren’t inherently harmful. But the potential for harm increases when there is an excess in your body that your cells can’t handle. This is why it’s so important to consume foods with good amounts of antioxidants. There are a number of foods that are richer in these compounds than others. Here are the best antioxidant-rich foods you’ll want to reach for on a regular basis.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries – in addition to being juicy and sweet – have some of the highest antioxidant levels among all varieties of fruits. What’s more, each is absolutely delicious! They all provide the daily recommended number of antioxidants in just a single cup serving. Take full advantage of them whenever they are in season for the freshest products, best price, and availability.
Green Tea & Matcha
Tea drinkers are on the right track where antioxidants are concerned. Green tea, in particular, promotes metabolic and cardiovascular health because of its high concentration of antioxidants. These antioxidants are referred to as flavonoids. Flavonoids actively repair cell damage caused by oxidation. But, where the benefits of green tea are concerned, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Matcha is also made from green tea leaves and is usually available in the form of a fine, green powder. One cup of a matcha drink is extremely concentrated, and thus contains an even higher level of antioxidants. The powder can be used to make tea by dissolving it in hot water. Add a bit of honey, a touch of milk, and you have a delicious and beneficial hot beverage. Perfect for a cold day or as a pick me up.
Note: Matcha can be used to create various drinks. Check the internet for drink recipes.
You know what they say – all things in moderation. Chocolate is no exception. Moderation is important here, of course, because chocolate of any kind can lead to excess calorie intake when eaten in large amounts. But if you’re going to reach for any kind of chocolate, dark is the most beneficial. It contains 2 to 3 times more antioxidants than milk chocolate. In fact, cocoa itself is rich in antioxidants. So, adding a scoop to a smoothie or yogurt is a delicious – and as it turns out, nutritious – way to supplement your diet. This is great news for chocolate lovers!
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of every antioxidant-filled food, these are some of the most concentrated sources found. Antioxidants can be found in other fruits, vegetables, and in legumes. Even treating yourself to a glass of red wine will give your body the antioxidants it needs. More good news!
Let's take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions regarding antioxidants.
A: Pollution, UV rays, and other environmental aggressors attack the surface of your skin causing damage by free radicals. To help protect your skin's surface, antioxidants are crucial. In fact, the best antiaging products and formulas use antioxidants.
A: One of the most important and powerful is that of glutathione. Three amino acids combine to form this antioxidant – cysteine, glutamine, and glycine – which helps to create the relationship between antioxidants and aging. Through your circulatory system and intestines, antioxidants help fight off aging, protecting the body's organs, tissues, and cells in the process.
A: The good news regarding antioxidants being found in wine and chocolate can further be improved by the fact that antioxidants are also found in coffee. In fact, in addition to red wine and tea, it's one of the most antioxidant rich drinks you can consume. Here are a few related numbers that give you a more precise idea of the antioxidant content of each of the previously mentioned beverages:
- Per glass of red wine, 150 to 400 mg of antioxidants
- In 1 cup of tea, 200 to 550 mg of antioxidants
- In 1 gram of cocoa powder, 50 mg antioxidants (polyphenols, a type of antioxidant)
A: If you're a coffee lover, the following "types" of coffee will make sense to you because you've likely seen them on a package in your home or on the shelf at the grocery store (they are rated by the highest content of antioxidants to the lowest):
- Robusta coffee
- Blonde coffee
- Medium roast arabica coffee
A: Free radicals in the body are tracked down by antioxidants which then neutralize any effects of the free radicals normally considered harmful. As a result, the body has healthier cells which aren't as susceptible to developing cancer.
It's clear, or certainly should be by now, that antioxidants should be included in a healthy, well-balanced diet. With all of the sources available, you are bound to come up with at least a few that can be added to a meal or two throughout your day. Be sure to include them in Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday meals so everyone can enjoy the benefits of antioxidants.
If you can't find enough antioxidant rich foods to supply the level you need, you can always turn to an antioxidant supplement. There are numerous selections on the market today.