In the 1990s, scientists identified that free radical damage was at the root of atherosclerosis. A few years later, they discovered that many other chronic diseases were a result of oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
The conclusion - a lack or deficiency of antioxidant-rich food was a leading cause of oxidative damage.
What Are Antioxidants?
Simply put, antioxidants are molecules that counter or neutralize the effect of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. These are a part of the body’s natural defense system.
How do Antioxidants work?
To understand how antioxidants work, let us first understand free radicals and how they cause damage.
When the body processes food or is exposed to an external environment like pollution, smoke, alcohol intake or radiation, the waste produced at a cellular level is called free radicals. These free radicals can harm cells and interfere with their normal functioning by taking electrons from other molecules involved in various cellular processes, resulting in various diseases.
The body does produce some antioxidants naturally - endogenous antioxidants. What antioxidants do is neutralize the free radicals by giving up their electrons. When free radicals are fed electrons, they can fight off foreign substances like viruses and bacteria*.
However, in supplying the electron to the free radical, either a cellular process is hindered or an antioxidant is depleted. Hence, we must replenish the body’s supply of antioxidants through exogenous sources. An antioxidant diet will supply your body with the necessary antioxidants it needs.
Sources of antioxidants
Plants, especially the bright colored ones like peppers, dark leafy greens, beets, and berries, are antioxidant-rich foods. Meats, too, contain antioxidants but in lower amounts. Different kinds of foods supply different kinds of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals in different ways.
For example, if vitamin C has donated an electron to a free radical, the demand can be fulfilled by an intake of vitamin C rich foods like Amla.
Types of antioxidants - their function and sources
- Carotenoids like beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, which neutralize the free radicals that cause damage to cells, are found in intensely pigmented fruits like carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potato. As well as dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and spinach. They have been shown to enhance the immune system's function and slow down aging*.
- Flavonoids like quercetin and apigenin are found in apples, berries, apricots, beans, green tea, whole wheat, and citrus fruits, to name a few. They maintain brain function, promote heart health, immunity, urinary tract health and vision*.
- Isothiocyanates are antioxidants mainly responsible for the detoxification of the body. They play a significant role in abnormal cell growth by deactivating carcinogens and removing them from the body*. They are found in abundance in cruciferous vegetables.
- Resveratrol is another antioxidant that protects the lining of the blood vessels of the heart. Free radicals sometimes trap bad cholesterol in the arterial wall, resulting in plaque formation, which in turn causes cardiovascular diseases. Resveratrol reduces cholesterol and also prevents the formation of clots*. It is found in red and purple grapes and peanuts.
- Tannins are another class of antioxidants that have antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic effects. They are found in nuts, lentils and pomegranates.
Your diet should include a balance of various kinds of antioxidants and other nutrients. FeelGood™ sources organic superfoods from across the globe that are packed with antioxidants.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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