Sometimes called “free-radical scavengers,” antioxidants help in regulating unstable molecules, free radicals, by preventing or slowing down the damages that may be caused by them. These substances called antioxidants are very vital for our health and their sources can either be artificial or natural. Exogenous is the word used to refer to antioxidants that come from outside the body and speaking of endogenous antioxidants, these are the ones that are produced by the body. However, it’s believed that there are some specific plant-based foods that are richer in antioxidants.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is another word used to refer to free radicals and you should note that the cells and body function can be harmed by oxidative stress which often occurs when these free radicals cannot be efficiently removed due to the difficulty of the body to process them. Cigarette smoke, UV exposure, and pollution are some of the internal factors that can facilitate the increment in the production of free radicals in the body. And, a host of inflammatory or ischemic conditions which include Parkinson’s disease, emphysema, immune deficiency, respiratory diseases, stroke, arthritis, cancer, and source to heart disease have been linked to oxidative stress.
Why Antioxidants Are Important
Whenever you’re exposed to radiation or smoke, there’s always a production of molecules; free radicals. And, these antioxidants show their importance with the role they play in an array of diseases as they serve to protect your cells against free radicals. While free radicals are likely to cause some damage to the cells, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E are antioxidants that do help to build a wall of protection.
And as earlier mentioned, cocoa, herbs and spices, seeds, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can be tremendously helpful because plant-based foods are the best sources. And, you should also note that lignans, phenols, tannins, and flavonoids are some of the antioxidants that occur naturally.
Speaking of fruits, it’s advised that you enjoy the varieties offered by the plenty that are available because while some of them are good sources of vitamins and minerals and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, they also offer a bonus of being high in antioxidants — whole grains, vegetables, and fruits in particular. However, if you’re looking for an option outside fruits and vegetables, you should go for superfood powder because it contains highly potent ingredients and an excellent formula. Don’t forget that oxidative stress is the end result of damages caused by free radicals and your sure bet to protect your body cells from these effects is antioxidants.
Sources Of Oxidative Stress
By now, you’ll definitely understand how harmful oxidative stress is, and here are some of the processes and activities that tend to facilitate them;
- Industrial solvents
- Exposure to chemotherapy, drugs, and chemicals like pesticides
- Environmental pollution
- Additives, certain dyes, and artificial sweeteners
- Consumption of some foods like trans fats and refined and processed foods
- Ischemia and reperfusion damage
- Tissue trauma
- Excessive exercise
- Mitochondrial activity
Consequential to being exposed to some of these processes or activities, one may experience;
- A disruption of electron transport chains
- Increment in the generation of free radicals due to the increase in enzymes
- Activation of phagocytes
- Massive production of copper ions or free iron
And, one is likely to experience oxidative stress with all these.
When we speak of the sources of antioxidants, pomegranate is a great option. However, don’t forget that plant-based foods are regarded as the best! “Functional food” or “superfood” is what’s used to refer to any food that’s richly filled with antioxidants.
Nevertheless, if you want your diet to contain some particular antioxidants, it’s advised that you refer to these;
- Selenium: Legumes, cheese, eggs, nuts, and whole grains such as wheat, corn, and rice.
- Lutein: Oranges, papaya, corn, green, leafy vegetables.
- Lycopene: Vegetables and pink and red fruits
- Beta-carotene: Mangoes, spinach, peas, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored.
- Vitamin E: Green, leafy vegetables, sunflower, nuts, and seeds.
- Vitamin C: Bell peppers, oranges, and berries rank high — but most fruits and vegetables in general.
- Vitamin A: Liver, eggs, and dairy produce.
Goji berries, pomegranates, dark chocolate, red grapes, green and black teas, legumes, lentils, spinach, broccoli, apples, and eggplants are some of the other foods that are known to be good sources of antioxidants.
It’s scientifically confirmed that taking antioxidants reduce the risks of having vision loss, atherosclerosis, or cancer resulting from oxidative stress, and as antioxidants keep acting as metal-chelating agents, synergist, enzyme inhibitor, singlet oxygen quencher, peroxide decomposer, peroxide decomposer, electron donor, hydrogen donor, and radical scavenger, they become very vital to reckon with, especially for people who desire to escape from the detrimental effects of oxidative stress and reduce their risk of disease. I could go on and on about the benefits of antioxidants and why you need to incorporate them into your diet – but the bottom line is that they do you a whole world of good!