Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances such as vitamins and phytochemicals that protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals may be created by the body's natural metabolism as well as environmental factors such as pollution, smoking, radiation and pesticides. Cell damage caused by free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases and cancer.
Antioxidants work by counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals. When these nasty molecules are blocked by antioxidants, the free radicals are oxidized. This is why it is important to load up on foods high in antioxidants to replenish the lost antioxidants in our body.
Picture it this way. Cut open a potato and leave it aside for a while. You will notice that the potato will have turned brown. However, if you soak the potato in a bowl of water, the potato will retain its color. In this case, the water acts as an antioxidant that prevents the cell that is the potato, from the effects of free radicals, which makes it turn brown.
Health benefits of antioxidants
It has been found that a diet rich in antioxidants can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancer. A combination of powerful antioxidants such as beta carotene, Vitamin E can significantly reduce cellular damage. Also, vitamin C > and vitamin E have been found to have antioxidant benefits that fight against cardiovascular disease.
Moreover, antioxidants help prevent the early symptoms of aging and boost energy as well. As a result of antioxidants intake, you don't just look good, but you also feel more energized.
Antioxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables and many other plant foods. Berries have the highest antioxidant content per serving. Other fruit source such as grapes, oranges, pineapples and plums have amazing antioxidant benefits as well. In addition, dried fruits such as raisins, dried prunes, dates, apricots and cherries are great sources of antioxidants although they may be high in calories.
Vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants as well. Have more servings of green leafy vegetables including broccoli and spinach, as well as other vegetables such as carrots, brussel sprouts and red cabbage. You can add flavor to your veggie plate by adding spices that also contain antioxidant properties such as hot peppers and fresh ginger root.
Red kidney beans are very high in antioxidants too. In fact, consuming half a cup serving can give you more antioxidants than helping yourself with a whole serving of berries. Black beans, kidney beans, lima beans and pinto beans are also high in antioxidants.
Soy is not only a good alternative to dairy products but can be a staple source of antioxidants. Enjoy the goodness of tofu and soy milk and be protected by its antioxidant benefits.
Red wine contains antioxidants that help prevent heart diseases. Limit your red wine intake to two glasses for men and a glass for women per day. Having your fix of dark chocolate is a great way to enjoy the benefits of antioxidants as well.
Powerful antioxidants include Vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, beta carotene and selenium. So make sure to have a diet rich in these nutrients to enjoy the benefits of antioxidants.