Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals which can cause the damage. Antioxidants act as ‘free radical scavengers’ and prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals.
Examples of natural foods that contain good amount of antioxidant
- Vitamin A and Carotenoids : Carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, peaches, apricot, winter & butternut squash, sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes.
- Vitamin E: Nuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables,vegetable oil, Cod liver oil.
- Selenium : Fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs.chicken, garlic
- Lycopene: Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, waterme lon.
- Flavonoids/ polyphenols: Soy, purple grapes, pomegranates, cranberries, tea.
- Lutein: Kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels, sprouts. spinach.
- Lignan: Flax seed, oatmeal, barley, rye.
Health Benefits of Antioxidant
- Carotenoids convert to Vitamin A which plays a role in vision, reproduction, bone growth, & cell function. It also helps stave off infections.
- Lutein has been shown to protect against cataracts & macular degeneration.
- Lycopene is associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer & sun damage to skin.
- Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties which may play a key role in immune function, metabolic processes & repairing DNA.
- Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein that makes skin, tendons, ligaments & blood vessels. Without it, wounds wouldn’t heal & cartilage, bones & teeth would break down.
- Selenium interacts with proteins to manufacture antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins, which may help regulate thyroid function & support the immune system.
- Antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer.
- Increased antioxidants can also help slow the process of aging & may increase longevity.
- There are claims that Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A & beta carotene reduce the risk of heart attacks & cancer.
Few Facts about Antioxidants
- One study showed that antioxidants may decrease the risk of a second heart attack by as much as 75%.
- A study on selenium was so positive that the National Cancer Institute is now suggesting a study of selenium on 35,000 men to see if it decreases the risk of prostate cancer.
- “These (antioxidant) nutrients might not make diabetes go away, but they might help you control diabetes better” states an associate professor of pediatrics.
- Important molecules in the body, such as those that form artery walls, become oxidized when they lose an electron. Once oxidized, they become unstable & easily break apart. Antioxidants stop this oxidation process.
- Studies reveal that a diet rich in antioxidants. as opposed to supplements is associated with lower rates of cancer & circulatory disease.