You’ve probably heard about the word antioxidants because it has been on everyone’s lips for the past 10 years. Health magazines, blog posts and story headlines all talk positively about antioxidants. However, how much do you know about this mysterious substance? Is it true that they are beneficial for your wellbeing and can keep you healthy and strong? Find out here:
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are warrior molecules that fight bag guys, in this case, free radicals. These villains are compounds in our bodies that can harm the organism if their number gets too high and cause serious illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Every human has a way to produce antioxidants and keep the defenses high, however, these molecules can also be received from food, especially veggies, fruit and various plant-based, whole foods. For example, some vitamins like E and C are great antioxidants.
Types of antioxidants
According to studies and guidelines, antioxidants come in variations, each one with a different role beneficial to human health.
For instance, phytonutrients are found in plants and have a bunch of health benefits, including high antioxidant activity. One of the phytonutrients that we’ve studied the most is resveratrol. Resveratrol is found in dark chocolate, red wine, grapes and peanuts and it can promote cardiorespiratory health and keep us safe from certain types of cancer—it reduces overall inflammations in the body. Other antioxidants known to scientists are anthocyanins (found in blue and purple veggies and fruits), isoflavones (found in soybeans), lutein (found in leafy greens) and lycopene (found in tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and red pepper).
Antioxidants in food
As you can see, antioxidants are crucial for human survival, and luckily, they are present in many types of whole foods, of both plant and animal origin. Their importance is so serious that your life depends on their regular intake, especially when it comes to vitamins C and E.
You probably know that a plant-based diet is very good for the health, and that might be partly due to the access to many antioxidants vegetarians and vegans get. But, according to statistics, coffee is the most common source of antioxidants for the majority of Western people since we eat a lot of processed foods instead of raw foods. Foods like berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon and grapefruit are great sources of antioxidants but how often do you eat them? The same goes for unsalted pistachios which are rich in antioxidants, but also protein, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B complex groups and minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. So make sure to do what Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern people do and grab your own baggy of pistachios at least once a week.
Benefits of antioxidants
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals so they can prevent different diseases. For instance, they can prevent cancer. According to some research, it’s possible that antioxidants can neutralize the damage caused by free radicals, but further research is needed. These molecules can also reduce the chance of developing age-related macular degeneration, but also maintain better eye health in people who already suffer from AMD. Thanks to vitamins C and E, people can lower the chance of cataracts.
When it comes to heart disease, there’s a lot of debate whether antioxidants can really help. However, research does show that people who eat a lot of fruit and veggies show a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, possibly due to all the antioxidants they ingest on a daily basis.
If you want to enjoy good health, you certainly need a proper dose of antioxidants every day, but make sure to be moderate (take supplementation only with the doctor’s permission). Your best strategy for a long and healthy life is a good diet full of antioxidants mixed with exercise and rest.