You've probably heard the term antioxidant. This world has been referenced thousands of times, especially around nutrition, diet, and fitness. If you run a Google search of the word antioxidant, it throws up over 130 million results. But what does antioxidant mean? What role does it play in benefiting your health? How can you best consume them? We find out answers to these questions and more here.
Antioxidants are present in your body and are seen in plant-based foods in their molecular form. These molecules help in counteracting oxidative stress. When there is an irregularity in the production of cell-damaging free radicals and an individual's ability to counter those detrimental impacts, oxidative stress occurs.
Free radicals are formed in the process of normal metabolism. They also respond to environmental pollutants such as smog, cigarette smoke, sun exposure, and even exercise.
Free radicals trigger oxidative stress that further damage healthy cells. They are known to cause various disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and cancer. Oxidative stress is also responsible for bringing adverse effects on aging.
Antioxidants work as a protective shield or a bodyguard in safeguarding healthy cells from free radical attacks. They are responsible in maintaining proper physiological function and protecting your health.
A natural diet high in antioxidants can help in reducing the risk of several diseases. That's because they help scavenge free radicals in the body cells and reduce the damage caused due to oxidative stress. Even today, research continues on the protective effect of antioxidants in the body. For example, lutein found in corn and spinach links to a lower incidence of vision loss and lends degeneration among older individuals. Also, studies in Japan reveal how flavonoids found in green tea help contribute to lower rates of heart disease.
There are thousands of substances that work as antioxidants. Ranging from polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamins C, antioxidants are also seen in a wide range of plant-based foods. Hence, getting antioxidants are easy from fresh produce. You can source antioxidants from apples, cherries, nuts and seeds, coffee and tea, dark leafy greens, cocoa, berries, herbs and spices, artichokes, grapes, beans, potatoes, avocado, pomegranate, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes and whole grains.
In addition, you can also find specific antioxidants in:
When choosing plant-based food groups, it is advisable to select a wide range of colors that can intake a greater spectrum of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
For instance, 2 cups of fruit and 5 cups of vegetables can help boost your antioxidant intake on a daily basis. You can choose to include one cup of vegetables at breakfast, two portions of vegetables at lunch, two portions at dinner and a cup of fruit as part of your breakfast and another during snack time.
An excellent way of boosting your antioxidant consumption is to opt for hold, plant-based foods over processed food items. For instance, you can choose to trade your processed cereal for oatmeal topped with nuts, seeds and fruits. Similarly, opt for a bowl of hummus, dark leafy greens topped with brown rice, legumes, and seasoned guacamole over a sandwich. Choosing antioxidant-rich food producers can increase the overall nutritional quality of your diet.
Consuming antioxidants through whole, plant-based foods is ideal. Hence, do not attempt to consume antioxidants through supplements as they could be harmful. Several research studies reveal how high dosage beta-carotene supplements have increased lung cancer risk among smokers. Similarly, high dosage supplements of vitamins can cause a greater risk of prostate cancer and hemorrhagic stroke.
The right way to add antioxidants to your diet is through fresh produce. That's because these molecules, present in their natural form, work in tandem with one another and other bioactive compounds. That means, through fresh fruits and vegetables, not only do you get antioxidants but other vital nutrients that work as a complex blend to protect your health.
Antioxidants are a critical aspect in fighting off chronic disease and fending off aging. They work as proactive nutritional elements to help you look and feel better. But remember that antioxidants are not a cure for every condition, and when planning to take in supplement form, you need to do so only under the supervision of a doctor. Source your antioxidants from plant-based foods and whole food ingredients to get the best out of their benefits and meet your daily requirement.