Antioxidants are chemical compounds that help prevent or reduce damage of our cells caused by free radicals, which could otherwise lead to the illnesses and health related problems. We need to consume antioxidants in order to balance the excess of free radicals especially from pollution and other artificial sources that can damage our cells.
Why do we need Antioxidants?
Free radicals are oxygen compounds produced by a process known as oxidation, an important chemical reaction in our cells that transforms the oxygen we inhale into useful energy. Oxidation is a natural process which is balanced by our body’s natural repair process. However, if you have excessive amount of free radicals, they can overpower your body’s natural repair system and be damaging.
We get excessive amount of free radicals because we are exposed daily to its artificial sources. Free radicals from artificial sources like tobacco, alcohol, and pollution and ingredients found in processed food cause imbalance which can damage are cells. Excessive free radicals make you susceptible to oxidative debt which in turn puts you at risk for chronic diseases and other health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems. Because of this, modern people need to consume antioxidants to offset or counterweight undue free radicals.
What are the Common Types of Antioxidants?
Antioxidants pertain to a range of various organic substances that counteract free radicals. Here are examples of antioxidants including common sources.
Vitamin E. This organic molele especially the most bioactive type, α-tocopherol is important and popular for healthy skin and eyes.
Vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, this antioxidant is important for tissue repair and for strengthening body immunity system. It is also an important antioxidant for regenerating other antioxidants.
Vitamin A. This pertains to unsaturated nutritive carbon-based composites that comprise retinol, retinal, and other carotenoids, necessary for supporting growth and development.
Polyphenols. This phytochemical characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural compounds such as flavones, anthocyanidins and isoflavones help in defending body against ultraviolet radiation or attack by pathogens like bacteria and virus.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids comes in three forms: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
What food are abundant sources of Antioxidants?
Here is a list of foods that contain high amount of antioxidants:
Goji berries. Also known as wolf berry, this dried fruit either of Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense is rich in vitamins A and C like blueberries and raspberries.
Kale. Also known as leaf cabbage, this cruciferous wild cabbage included broccoli and cauliflower.
Dark Chocolate. The Cocoa in dark chocolate is the antioxidant that help reduce inflammation and heart disease.
Spirulina. This blue-green sea weed or algae is loaded with various nutrients and antioxidants
Beans. This pertains to various groups of legumes which are one of the cheapest healthy snacks that are also high in fiber.
Each antioxidant has a unique chemical composition and delivers diverse health benefits. Note however that antioxidants can also be harmful to your body when taken excessively. Hence, it is important for people to consult their doctors to consume on the right amount of antioxidant.