The term antioxidant is not unfamiliar for many, but not really understood. There are many definitions that surrounds antioxidants depending on the purpose. Scientifically, antioxidant is defined as a molecule that controls the molecular oxidation. When we say oxidation, it is the chemical reaction that produces free radicals that is responsible for the chain reaction that can damage the cells in our bodies. An example of an antioxidant is what we commonly buy in drugstores, and that is the ascorbic acid or Vitamin C, these antioxidants terminates these chain reactions.
Antioxidants, are very broad and complex. But what we need to understand is that it is beneficial for us to have a healthy body.
The usage of antioxidants is defined into two classifications and that is the industrial chemicals and the natural chemicals. When you say industrial chemicals these are the products added to prevent oxidation while the natural chemicals are those found in foods and body tissues which has health benefits.
An important fact to know about is that antioxidants are also used as dietary supplements. According to studies it doesn’t improve our health and it doesn’t prevent diseases. Supplements with Selenium or Vitamin E will not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
For this article, we will focus more on the natural part of antioxidants. These antioxidants occurs in food products that are plant based, example of which are fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine and chocolate. Antioxidants present in this types of foods are what we commonly hear as flavanols (chocolate), resveratrol (wine) and lycopene (tomatoes). These antioxidants help eliminate viruses and microbes. Other antioxidants are Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Catechins.
What are the health benefits of antioxidants?
- The antioxidant, beta-carotene is beneficial for our eyes.
- The antioxidant, lycopene is for the maintenance of our prostate health
- The antioxidant, flavanoids are beneficial for our heart
- The antioxidant, proanthocyanidin are beneficial for our urinary tract.
- For the skin, whenever our skin is exposed to harmful UV light, various reactive species of oxygen takes place causing cellular damage to the skin. Astaxanthin when followed by beta carotene and vitamin E makes a powerful antioxidant to protect the skin.
- Our immune system, always needs that extra boost to help keep our bodies health so that we don’t get sick or contract diseases. With this is mind, antioxidants, helps keep our immune system going. Astaxanthin and Spirulina are examples of this. Anstaxanthin, is a powerful quencher of singlet oxygen while Spirulina contains a variety of antioxidants that boosts the immune system.
- Consuming foods with a healthy dose of antioxidants can improve one’s memory and mood.
Antioxidants, are very broad and complex. But what we need to understand is that it is beneficial for us to have a healthy body. Know more about what foods contain antioxidants, increase your intake. It may not feel obvious but simple adjustments will do wonders for your body. It is not just about how much we eat on a daily basis but the quality of the foods we put into our bodies. Care for your body and Love it! And It will love you back.