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Why Antioxidants Are Great for Your Health

We’ve all no doubt heard how great antioxidants are for our health, and that it’s important that we get enough antioxidant-rich foods in our diets, but the details of said antioxidants seem to remain somewhat fuzzy at best. What exactly is the meaning of all this antioxidant stuff anyway?

What Are Antioxidants?

There are many sources of antioxidants, both natural and artificial. Your body creates something called endogenous antioxidants, while antioxidants obtained from outside your body are called exogenous antioxidants.

Antioxidants can be either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble antioxidants occur within the fluid in and around our cells, whereas the fat-soluble variety occur in cell membranes. To sum things up, antioxidants are simply substances that can assist with slowing down damage to your body’s cells – damage that’s caused by free radicals.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals, otherwise known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are unstable molecules created by your body in response to external factors. They can be explained as waste products created by cells as the body processes food and other environmental factors.

Your body’s production of free radicals can be spurred on by internal factors like inflammation, and also external factors like pollution and excess UV exposure. This oxidative stress plays a role in the development of inflammatory conditions and diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and many more.

Benefits of Antioxidants

So just how do antioxidants work? The role of antioxidants is simply to help neutralize free radicals in your body, giving you the benefit of improved health and general wellbeing.

Research suggests that a good antioxidant supplement can assist in the reduction of vision loss in older people. On the flip side, your body’s immune cells actually fight infections with free radicals, so even though we’re always only hearing about all the benefits of antioxidants, it’s vital that your body maintains a good antioxidant to free radical balance.

These are just some of the antioxidants that you can get from food:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein
  • Selenium
  • Manganese
  • Flavonoids
  • Polyphenols
  • Phytoestrogens 

These antioxidants all come from different foods, so it’s important to maintain a sense of variety in your daily diet, keeping in mind to go for the bright and vibrant colours as opposed to shades of browns.

Antioxidant-Rich Food Sources

While your body creates its own antioxidants, it’s necessary to consume plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, the best sources of which are plant-based foods in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants are also present in meat and fish but in far lesser amounts, for example, dairy products, liver and eggs are good sources of vitamin A.

Goji berries, red grapes, green tea and coffee are well-known for being some of the richest sources of antioxidants, as well as dark chocolate, pomegranates, and legumes.

Try to include a wide variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, but also, not to be forgotten – plenty of dark leafy greens, with a few nuts and whole grains.

When it comes to antioxidants, consuming a good variety of fresh produce every day can ensure that you get the most out of your diet.

What About Supplementing With Antioxidants?

In the event that you’re not getting the most out of your diet, you may want to consider taking antioxidant supplements. However, the safest way to get what you need is still through your diet.

Certain antioxidants, in large amounts, can cause health complications and interact with other medications you may be taking, so it’s a good idea to get the opinion of your doctor before deciding to supplement.

Interestingly enough, studies haven’t been able to show that supplementing with large doses of antioxidants can actually help with disease, so in this case, it’s probably best to stay on the safe side and keep a good balance.

At times you may feel the need to supplement with the antioxidants you’re not able to get, but it’s always best not to neglect having variety in your diet.

Maintain Your Antioxidant Balance

We may not be able to do much about the pollution we’re exposed to but there are a few other things we can do to make sure our bodies have enough antioxidants to go around.

Quitting smoking, reducing your consumption of refined and processed foods, as well as your exposure to harmful chemicals, can greatly help to mitigate the harmful effects of free radicals.

Making these few changes and making the necessary improvements to our diets will help in the effort to become happier, healthier, and perhaps even looking a bit younger!

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