The human body has trillion cells or so, and they face threats or are prone to diseases, from lack of food or food we eat to infection with a virus. Another continuous threat comes from chemicals present in the food called free radicals. These free radicals are generated from the byproduct of turning food into energy or are formed after smoking cigarettes, air pollution, or sunlight. They can damage genetic materials and cells in the human body.
Fortunately, the human body is immune to free radicals. It makes many molecules or reduces chemicals from the body to kill the destructive effect of those free radicals. The defenders of free radicals are also found in food, commonly known as antioxidants. Antioxidants help maintain the health of the cells and also are involved in the mechanism of repairing DNA.
What Exactly Is Antioxidant?
In order to understand Antioxidants, you must know and understand the basics of science. So, molecules are made up of two or more atoms, and the atoms are made up of three components, i.e., protons, electrons, and neutrons. If the molecules have to remain stable, they must contain the right amount of electrons; else, they will turn into free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous as they attack the good molecules which promote important body functions.
Antioxidants are natural or manufactured substances that combat free radicals, which can cause various diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been found healthy to fight against free radicals. They are also available in the form of antioxidant supplements such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium and lycopene.
Health Benefits Of Antioxidants
As you have read above, antioxidants are substances that protect the body from free radicals that damage the cells. But there are other conditions and diseases which antioxidants can fight. So, keep reading to learn about these health benefits.
- Prevent Cancer: Some research has found that antioxidant vitamins may help prevent cancer. This is because antioxidants can help prevent the damage of free radicals, which can potentially cause cancer. However, there is not enough information available to determine whether antioxidants from food can help reduce the risk of cancer in people.
- Prevent Vision Loss: Age-related Degeneration is one of the most common causes of vision loss or low vision in adults after age 60. This happens when the macula, an important tissue in the back of your eye, begins to wear away. Antioxidants can prevent low vision in adults by up to 25%.
- Improve heart conditions: It is seen that people who have more vegetables and fruits have a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. Food rich in antioxidants may be responsible for improving heart conditions or reducing the risk in people. A higher concentration of antioxidant supplements can also do the same.
Top Food Sources Of Antioxidants
Various types of food available are rich in antioxidants. You can also take antioxidant vitamins tablets for additional benefit. Each of these antioxidants plays an essential role in your health. Keep reading to know the food products that are rich in antioxidants.
Phytonutrients are chemical compounds found in plants and have a wide variety of health benefits. They also benefit the body in antioxidant activity. It is estimated that there are more than 4,000 kinds of phytonutrients, but only a small amount of them have been closely studied, which include:
Anthocyanins are found in purple and blue vegetables and fruits, such as eggplant, asparagus, blueberries, purple potatoes, etc. These purple fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants help improve blood vessel health.
Resveratrol is a type of antioxidant that is present in red wine, grapes, peanuts and even dark chocolates. They have been known to improve the health of the heart and lungs in the human body, which helps to prevent a certain type of cancer. They may also reduce inflammation overall.
They are present in soybean. Isoflavones help to improve bone health by reducing the inflammation in joints. They may also help ease the menopause symptoms and protect you against breast cancer.
Lycopene is a type of best antioxidant that is found in tomatoes as well as in watermelon, red peppers, pink grapefruit, etc. They help to promote prostate health and heart health.
This antioxidant is found in broccoli, spinach, lettuce, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, and artichokes. Lutein helps improve the health of your heart and eyes and plays a vital role in preventing some cancers.
Food Supplements Of Antioxidants
Vitamins and minerals can also play a role in performing an antioxidant activity. Here are some examples of it.
Vitamin E is present in eight various chemicals in the form of food. But alpha-tocopherol is the only chemical form that meets the needs of human beings. Not only does Vitamin E help to carry out normal functions of the body, but also it limits or reduces the production of free radicals. Foods rich in Vitamin E are wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, and oil, dry roasted almonds and hazelnuts, etc.
Vitamin C is a nutrient found in natural food products such as plant-based food. If you see ascorbic acid in your diet, know it contains Vitamin C. It not only acts as an antioxidant but also retrieves other antioxidants attacked by free radicals. It is found that Vitamin C protects people from many diseases, such as heart diseases and particular types of cancers. They are found in orange juice, grapefruit, kiwi, and red bell pepper.
This type of vitamin exists in two forms; organic and inorganic. In inorganic selenium, you will find selenate and selenite. And in organic selenium, you’ll find selenomethionine and selenocysteine. The human body requires both of these vitamins which you can get from many animals and plants. Selenium is one of those powerful antioxidants that can help you protect your body and heart from developing particular cancer. Foods rich in selenium are roasted ham, sardines, yellowfin tuna, brazil nuts, etc.
Copper is both an antioxidant and pro-oxidant. It is a protein responsible for transporting iron to tissues. The intake of copper should be in balance, too; much of it can be destructive, while a minimal amount may not be enough to provide protection. Not getting enough copper may also affect the level of selenium. You can get copper from food such as granola, tomato puree, black beans, oysters, soy-protein powders, etc.
Manganese is another powerful antioxidant. It dismutase is the main enzyme of antioxidants in the mitochondria of every cell in the human body. As you have read in schools, mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouses because they are responsible for the production of power and energy. Foods rich in manganese are brown rice, pecans, almonds, pineapple, and juice.
Antioxidants have proved to have potential health benefits in humans. You may try the best antioxidant supplements if you don’t get enough of them from natural food products. However, if you are into medication for some other reason, the antioxidant supplements may also prove to be harmful to your health. So, make sure to consult your dietician before you take supplements.