Antioxidants & their importance are currently one of the "hottest" topics across all aspects of the media.
We hear about them all the time. Lots of food products claim to contain antioxidants. We are told that antioxidants are good for the body, but the majority of people do not even understand what antioxidants are & what they do to help us achieve & maintain good health!.
To get a better understanding of what it is that antioxidants do, we must first understand how our bodies work.
Heres a great video to help you......
As a part of our normal body processes, free radicals are formed, these are formed from our own metabolisms and from environmental stresses such as smoking, pollution, pesticides & radiation, as well as a lack of Exercise and a Lack of Sleep!.
These free radicals are unstable molecules, which set out to attack other molecules in our bodies, which make up the cells of the body. Being "unstable" basically means that the free radical molecules either have one too many electrons or that it lacks one. It therefore either tries to give or steal electrons from other molecules, wreaking havoc.
Once the healthy molecules are attacked, they themselves become free radicals which is known as "oxidative damage" & the grouping of these free radicals is associated with both aging & degenerative diseases.
As free radicals occur naturally, there is nothing we can do to prevent them, however, the role of antioxidants is to keep the number of free radicals at a managable level to help minimise the Anti Aging process.
They do this by neutralizing the free radicals, without the danger of becoming free radicals themselves. Antioxidants can therefore help prevent premature aging & diseases by enhancing & strengthening our bodies immune system.
Another really informative short video....
Antioxidants are basically Nutrients ,like vitamins and minerals, which can be found in most Vegetables & Fruits .Eating these regularly is proven to be beneficial. A recent study in London has even confirmed that five servings of vegetables and fruits each day can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 25% !.
Among the most commonly known antioxidants are Vitamin "A", Vitamin "C" & Vitamin "E".
Vitamin "A" and Carotenoids can be found in carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, collards, tomatoes, kale, peaches, cantaloupe melons and apricots.
Vitamin "C" can be found in most citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, etc. However, it is also found in other fruits and vegetables too like broccoli, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and some green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin "E" can be found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, cod liver oil and vegetable oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil which contains the highest levels of antioxidant effects from protective plant compounds(which is one of the reasons that the Mediterranean Diet is seen as a great lifestyle choice by so many people, as it is highly rich in many forms of antioxidants as well as the "wonder antioxidant"....Resveratrol .
There are other antioxidants existing, apart from vitamins. Selenium also helps boosts our body’s capacity for antioxidants and has been thought to help prevent Prostate Cancer .It can be found in red meat, fish, shellfish, grains, chicken, eggs and garlic.
Flavonoids can be found in red wine, soy, pomegranate, purple grapes, cranberries and tea. Lycopene, which also helps fight cancer, can be found in tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
Lutein helps fight eye disease. It can be found in dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, kiwi, spinach and sprouts.
Lignan can be found in whole grains like oatmeal, flax seed, rye and barley.