Antioxidants are essentially your body’s first line of defense, keeping free radicals under control, counteracting their damaging effects, and removing them from your bloodstream. They are molecules that protect other molecules from a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation can damage important molecules in our cells which are responsible for many bodily functions. In other words, antioxidants protect cells from free radicals that occur in the body from exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants, radiation, and as a byproduct of normal metabolism.
Antioxidants, coming in different shapes and sizes, donate electrons to these free radicals, thereby making them stable. In some cases, they also play a crucial role in degrading these radicals and render them harmless.
Benefits of Antioxidant
Maintaining a high level of antioxidants in your blood not only helps in disease management but it also helps in building up the immune system and detoxification of the body and reduce the risk of oxidative damage. They also help boost one’s cognitive function, keep one’s eyes, skin, and hair healthy and also aids better lung functioning. Find out below how antioxidants benefit our wellbeing.
The continuous existence of free radicals without the protection of antioxidants can accelerate the aging process. Despite the inevitability of aging, consuming adequate intake of antioxidants may add on more youthful years of life. Antioxidants have also shown to protect against age-related diseases.
Our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun throughout the day. This produces free radicals and reactive oxygen species that cause damage to cells as well as skin tissues. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin E counter the damaging effect of free radicals, keeping the skin healthy. They also limit the occurrence of wrinkles and prevent further skin damage.
Antioxidant activity has been shown to decrease “bad” cholesterol within the blood. The intake of antioxidant-containing food sources can protect the heart against disease, primarily related to its ability to reduce cholesterol.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body essentially attacks its own joints, subsequently becoming inflamed and causing pain, redness, and swelling. The anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants can defend against associated symptoms of arthritis.
Improves Immune System
One of the best ways to boost immunity is by consuming more fresh fruits and cooked vegetables loaded with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, & E. Also, dietary supplements rich in antioxidants mainly Vitamin C helps people with weak immune systems to prevent ailments such as cold and cough.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C and E are found to be helpful in reducing the risk of cataract formation and Vitamin A helps nourish the retina and protects it which is important for preventing night blindness.
Dietary Sources of Antioxidants
Consider incorporating plant-based foods in your diet, especially fresh fruits and cooked vegetables which are the best source of antioxidants, often referred to as a ‘superfood’. To obtain antioxidants, try to include the following superfoods in your diet.
The significant vitamin C content in oranges, which operates as an antioxidant does much more than compliment eyesight. Other citrus fruits, such as lemon and lime, have also shown to have a powerful antioxidant effect.
Tomatoes obtain their antioxidant benefits from their lycopene content, a carotenoid, and pigment providing tomatoes its red color. Lycopene offers powerful antioxidant properties, ultimately suggested to prevent heart disease and numerous cancer types.
Green, leafy vegetables are continually encouraged related to their high nutritional content, including the antioxidant properties of vitamin E and beta-carotene.
Herbal teas are a good source of antioxidants as they contain potential herbs and spices which help in the detoxification of the body. They also have health-promoting properties and have been used as natural remedies for a variety of ailments.
Indian Gooseberries are rich in antioxidants, such as phytonutrients, and vitamins C and E, which may help protect your skin health, nervous system and build ojas to support a healthy immune response and youthfulness.
Along with foods, certain herbs and spices also act as rich sources of antioxidants. Some prominent ones in this list include:
Antioxidants are powerful components that may help improve your immune system and protect your body from diseases. When possible, enjoy foods rich in a variety of antioxidants to protect you from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, vision loss and reap all their possible health benefits.
Note: This article is for educational purposes only. Always seek health advice from your healthcare professional.