Antioxidant is any substance that inhibits oxidation. Oxidation is the process by which we are continuously burning calories to produce energy for our cells to use in order to function. It is a necessary process and it is life-giving. However, scientists have now proved that this very process that enables us to live also releases dangerous and highly active molecules known as free radicals.
Free radicals are the pervading cause of cell damage. They attack other cells, the cell walls, and genetic material within. Over a long period, such damage can become irreversible, leading to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and other diseases associated with aging.
The one thing that can stop free radicals from completely damaging our tissues is the antioxidant. An antioxidant is a chemical that prevents the oxidation of other chemicals. In normal biological systems, free radicals have the tendency to attack healthy molecules around them and turn them into free radicals like themselves, creating a chain reaction which could lead to massive cellular damage. It is the job of the antioxidant to keep free radicals from turning healthy molecules into free radicals.
The antioxidant breaks off the free radical chain, thus preventing damage in the cells. In addition, antioxidants may also have properties that enable them to repair damages that might have been incurred. Antioxidants are found in various fruits and vegetables. Below are my top 5 antioxidants food choices.
Tomatoes are by far the richest source of a powerful anticancer agent called lycopene. In fact, research has shown lycopene to be an even more powerful disease fighter than vitamin E and beta carotene. Lycopene needs fat for optimal absorption to occur. Therefore, putting the healthy fat olive oil in your spaghetti sauce is an excellent trick to increase your lycopene levels. Start including more tomatoes in your diet in the form of sliced, whole, canned, stewed or sauced tomatoes or tomato paste.
The wealth of antioxidant nutrients in grapes is somewhat startling! In addition to providing us with conventional antioxidant nutrient like vitamin C and manganese, grapes are filled with antioxidant phytonutrients that range from common carotenoids like beta-carotene to unusual stilbenes like resveratrol, and the total number of different antioxidant nutrients in grapes runs well into the hundreds. It’s important to note that the seed and the skin contain the richest concentration of antioxidants. It’s very rare to find a higher concentration of an antioxidant in the fleshy part of the grape than is present in the seed or skin.
Blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA. We recommend enjoying raw blueberries – rather than relying upon blueberries incorporated into baked desserts – because, like other fruits, raw blueberries provide you with the best flavor and the greatest nutritional benefits
Green tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. These compounds work in the body with other chemicals to heighten levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis. Green tea has also been shown to be preventative against cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol. The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria and some viruses. This can lower the risk of infections and lead to improvements in dental health, a lower risk of caries and reduced bad breath. Some controlled trials show that green tea can cause mild reductions in blood sugar levels. It may also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Artichokes are a versatile food. For nutritional purposes, they are primarily consumed due to their associated benefits of protecting against various forms of cancer, bolstering the immune system strength, lowering cholesterol, and protecting against diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Artichokes have also long been famous for detoxifying the body and improving the health of the liver and aiding in digestive issues like indigestion.