Antioxidants are natural or artificial substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. The process of oxidation – which is our body’s reaction to environmental and other pressures – produces unstable chemicals called free radicals, which damage cell membranes and other structures. Aging and disease have been thought of as the oxidation of the body.
Factors that increase the production of free radicals in the body can be internal, such as inflammation, or external, like pollution, UV exposure, and cigarette smoke.
When free radicals accumulate, they can cause a state known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress have been linked to many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease. It is also thought to be why we all get wrinkles, why we lose some of our memory, and why our organ systems break down as we get older. Eating foods containing lots of antioxidants may slow down this oxidant process. How can you tell whether a food is rich in antioxidants? Slice it open, expose it to air (oxygen), and then see what happens. If it turns brown, it’s oxidizing.
Antioxidant is not really the name of a substance, but rather it describes what a range of substances can do.
There are thought to be hundreds of substances that can act as antioxidants. Each has its own role and can interact with others to help the body work effectively.
Good sources of antioxidants include:
- beta-carotene – pumpkin, mango, apricot, carrot, spinach, parsley
- flavinoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion, apple
- isoflavinoids – soybean, tofu, lentil, pea
- lutein – green, leafy vegetables, corn
- lycopene – tomato, pink grapefruit, watermelon
- selenium – whole grains
- vitamin A – sweet potato, carrot
- vitamin C – orange, blackcurrant, kiwi, mango, broccoli, spinach, strawberry
- vitamin E – avocado, nuts, whole grains
Green, leafy vegetables and berries are the best sources of antioxidants. There is good evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthy and lowers risks of certain diseases.
Here are a list of my favorite healthy foods that are high in antioxidants:
Delicious, nutritious and one of the best sources of antioxidant. It has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries.
They are rich in minerals, healthy fats and antioxidants. They may also help lower bad cholesterol.
They may help reduce the risk of heart disease and delay the decline in brain function that happens with age.
The most popular berries on the planet. No wonder why. 🙂 Strawberries contain a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which not only give them their red color, but also help reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, which reduce your risk of heart disease.
A rich source of antioxidants, including a unique type known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. These have been linked to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer, and may help fight skin aging.