As you might have guessed from the name, antioxidants prevent oxidization of molecules. In this case, we are referring to food molecules that prevent food molecules other molecules. A lot of processes go on in our body, it’s like a factory in there, and every machine part needs a bit of lubricant to facilitate ease of work and in the long run prevent damage. Similarly, many body progressions result in oxidation and therefore, we need to incorporate antioxidant foods to avoid any adverse side effects of too many oxidizes molecules. When there is oxidation, there is an increased number of radicals in the body (unstable molecules) seeking for stabilization (searching for their missing electrons). When antioxidants come into play, they fill these electrons without them themselves being free radicals!
Classification of antioxidantsJust like every other nutritional need in the book, antioxidants have categories, these are:
- Water soluble antioxidants
- Fat soluble antioxidants
Water soluble antioxidants are more commonly known as vitamin C while fat soluble ones as vitamin E. Carotenoids are defines the pigmentation present in colored vegetables and fruits. We are all aware that fruits and green leafy vegetables should be something that never lacks in our meal plan. But just how important are these antioxidants to the body?
Benefits of antioxidantsAntioxidants have been known and scientifically proven to have numerous benefits to the body in general. Here are some of the highlights of what you stand to gain:
- In general, antioxidants are required for the overall maintenance of the immune system and therefore, a general statistic has confirmed that vegetarians have higher antioxidant enzymes that non-vegetarians.
- A high intake of antioxidants is associated with lower rates of cancer in the body cells. Vitamins found in tomatoes and strawberries have been found to be effective in curbing prostate cancer.
- Intake of vitamin C and E has also shown to have significantly reduced your chances of getting a cardiovascular disease.
- Furthermore, antioxidants inhibit the clumping of platelets especially in the blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood clot formation. This is an enormous role played by vitamin E.
- Oxidation is necessary for prevention of atherogenesis, which is the formation of abnormal fatty acids in the arterial walls. The likelihood of this is improved when LDL cholesterol in the body is oxidized.
- Increased mental clarity and energy production
- As we age, so does our solid performances and tasks. The compromised state of the retina and lens in the eye can be traced to the lack of antioxidant vitamins. These oxidants provide the most practical solution to delaying cataracts, as vitamins from green leafy vegetables provide lutein and zeaxanthin that are carotenoid pigments needed by the retina.
- A healthy and ever glowing skin, which can be mirrored as a slower aging effect.
- Vitamins are necessary in the decontamination and detoxification of the body, additional the sweat and urine excretion.
- With all the above benefits working for you, you are almost guaranteed a longer life span (that is unless you get hit by a bus!)
Vegan and vegetarian diets It's safe to say vegans are just really strict vegetarians. One thing they, however, have in common is their diets. Having a diet that strictly comprises of fruits and veggies exposes your body to all the natural and raw sources of antioxidants. Is it a surprise that a lot of them are in great shape? Vegans and vegetarians have a higher concentration of beta-carotene in their body as well as vitamins C and E. this results in a higher superoxide dismutase activity. Broken down, this the process of the enzyme partitioning a superoxide into an ordinary molecule. This is return can prevent future cell damage from the reactive (oxidization). In long term speaking, being a vegetarian once in a while is not the worst thing that you can do. Set a few dates aside to better your antioxidant status, for a better dietary allowance.
Sources of antioxidants
Green leafy veggies
This is probably one of the most commonly known sources of vitamins such as E and C, and it’s with good reason this particular one are famous. The likes of kale, spinach, collards and chard are among the easiest foods to ingest with nothing but positive results from it. Not only are they loaded with vitamins, but they also have fiber, amino acids, and enzymes. Harness the full nutritional concentration by eating them raw or slightly steamed for a filling meal.
Berries come in all shapes, sizes and sorts. Some of the most popular berries that we may be familiar with are probably the blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. All of these berries contain a day’s worth of vitamin C that comes in handy in fending off any free radicals that may be in your body. Blackberries mainly may provide a few antioxidants than strawberries, therefore, require to be eaten as part of a mix. Widen your vitamin scope.
This is probably one of my personal favorites, not only are most people suckers for a sweet tooth from time to time, but to have it as a great antioxidant just gives it that extra boost in our diets. But this is not just any chocolate, a raw one or a cacao brand. Raw cacao is packed with loads of antioxidants. Additionally this is a great way to moderate your sugar intake, as too much of it may decrease its benefits.
In this case, a particular example like kidney beans are a great source of antioxidant nutrients. They additionally have high manganese levels that maintains the levels of antioxidants in the body. If you don’t have an appetite for this, consider eating red beans as a substitute. Consider having it in a salad or a side dish for maximized effects.
Fruits are the key source of all vitamins, it is no surprise it’s on this list. Some of the fruits you can consider eating are; peaches, grapefruit, apples, watermelons, oranges, cherries and tomatoes (yes it’s a fruit). Tomatoes have lycopene which comes is known in preventing diseases and even diabetes. The list is endless and these are just examples. Even with these few in your diet, you will feel the change. All the best.