Antioxidants

Antioxidants are components that neutralize free radicals that play a vital role in cancer, heart disease, and various other diseases. Free radicals tend to be highly reactive chemicals and have the capability to destruct cells. They get formed when a molecule or an atom either loses or gains an electron. Free radicals are generated by the body as a response to radiation or environmental pressures. There are commonly two sources of antioxidants; artificial or natural. Some plant-based foods are commonly believed to be high in antioxidants, and plant-based antioxidants are believed to a type of phytonutrient. The human body, too, produces a few antioxidants, and they are recognized as endogenous antioxidants, whereas antioxidants that come from the outside of the human body are known as exogenous.


What are the Examples of Antioxidants?

Antioxidants, like carotenoids, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, might help in shielding cells from the damage that free radicals cause, and some other naturally arising antioxidants comprise tannins, flavonoids, lignans, and phenols. Some plant-based foods are acknowledged as the finest sources, and they comprise vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, cocoa, spices, herbs, and seeds. In the form of a bonus, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits that are rich in antioxidants are also commonly rich in fiber, excellent sources of minerals and vitamins, and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.


The Presence of Antioxidants in Foods

Every living thing needs antioxidants for its survival, and our body does generate its antioxidants, like cellular antioxidant glutathione. Again, some animals, plants, and various other kinds of lives too possess their defenses against oxidative damage as well as free radicals. So, it can be said that antioxidants are present in every whole food of animal and plant origin. Sufficient intake of antioxidants is vital, and our life is dependent on the consumption of some antioxidants, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Nonetheless, other non-important antioxidants too are present in our food. 

Though they happen to be unnecessary for our bodies, yet they do play a huge role in our general health. We get massive benefits from a diet that is rich in plants due to various antioxidants that they propose to us. Green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and coffee are quite popular for being excellent sources of antioxidants. Studies have proved that in the Western diet, coffee is the largest source of antioxidants, and it is partly as an average person does not eat many antioxidant-rich foods. Again, fish and meat products too contain antioxidants though not to the degree as vegetables and fruits. 

Antioxidants are hugely effective in increasing the shelf life of processed as well as natural foods, and so, they are habitually utilized in the form of food additives. For example, we often include Vitamin C to the processed foods for working as preservatives.


A Healthy Diet that Contains Antioxidants

When people eat a healthy diet, they get sufficient amounts of antioxidants, and it comprises a combination of vegetables and fruits. Seeds, nuts, and whole grains too propose good nutrients.

  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is present in eggs, liver, butter, and milk.

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is found in many vegetables and fruits, and so, it is important to eat fruits, like oranges, berries, cantaloupes, papayas, and kiwis. Again, you must also eat vegetables, like broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E is present in some seeds and nuts, like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts. Some green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, are also good sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E is also present in sunflower, canola oils, corn, and soybean.

  • Lycopene – It is found in both pink and red vegetables and fruits, and it comprises watermelon, tomatoes, apricots, and grapefruits.

  • Beta-carotene – Beta-carotene is present in brightly-colored vegetables and fruits, and so, we need to eat fruits, like apricots, peaches, cantaloupes, mangoes, and papayas. It is also important to eat vegetables, like peas, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. Beta-carotene is also present in many leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, and beet greens.

  • Selenium – It is present in bread, pasta, and grains that comprise wheat, rice, and corn. Additionally, it is present in many animal products, such as turkey, chicken, fish, and beef. Selenium is also present in legumes, cheese, eggs, and nuts.

  • Lutein – Lutein is present in some green leafy vegetables, like collards, kale, and spinach. Some other foods, like oranges, papayas, peas, corn, and broccoli too, are rich in Lutein.


The Tips to Increase Your Intake of Antioxidants

The following tips help increase your intake of antioxidants:

  • You must eat a vegetable or fruit whenever you eat, and it includes snacks and meals.

  • Drink a cup of matcha or green tea daily.

  • Observe your plate’s color. When your food happens to be mostly beige or brown, then the levels of antioxidants happen to be low, and so, you need to include foods that have rich colors, like beets, berries, and kale.

  • Use oregano, cumin, turmeric, clove, cinnamon, and ginger for spicing up the content of antioxidants and flavor of your meals.

  • Make a habit to munch seeds and nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, dried fruits, and sunflower seeds. However, you must keep this in mind to select those that are devoid of salt or added sugar.


Some Delicious Recipes 

According to some registered dietitians, some delicious and healthy recipes are mentioned below:

  • Carrot cake power smoothie

  • Almond-cherry smoothie

  • Cinnamon-ginger roasted carrots

  • Cure-all juice

  • Thai lettuce wraps

  • Kale, cashew superfood soup, and chickpea.

  • Red quinoa salad and roast beet along with the orange-beet balsamic vinaigrette

You need to keep this in mind that there isn’t any RDA or recommended daily allowance for antioxidants though you must intake various fresh plant-based products as they are viewed as healthy.


Advantages of Antioxidants

Dietary antioxidant vitamins comprise vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E besides beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium, and lutein. Some diets that have plenty of antioxidants are connected with the following:

  • Digestive function

  • Immune function

  • Eye health

  • Skin health

  • Brain function

  • Blood sugar stability

  • Cardiovascular health

  • Prostate health

Different antioxidants do good to our body in various methods. For instance, beta-carotene has massive health benefits for eye health, and skin. Lycopene is good for prostate health and it helps in lessening the signs of BPH. Again, Vitamin C has various health benefits that include the protection of the heart and immune system. Hence, it can be said that antioxidants benefit your health and body in various ways and so you must discover methods for augmenting your consumption of antioxidants. The best method to accomplish this is by incorporating various highly antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.


Conclusion

People respond to antioxidants in several ways as they can result in negative effects or health risks on their health. For example, smokers run a huge chance of getting infected with lung cancer. Again, taking beta-carotene in huge doses can augment your chances of this disease. At times, antioxidants have an interaction with a few medicines also. When you eat healthily, you lessen your chances of getting infected with some diseases, but you need to keep this in mind that antioxidants alone can’t prevent chronic conditions. It is the wisest decision to consult your doctor before you take large dosages of antioxidants as your doctor would help you in determining the appropriate supplements that are ideal for your health and well-being.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is There Something That Can Negatively Affect Antioxidants?

As some foods can provide your body with a boost of antioxidants, some foods can constraint their action. Simple carbohydrates and refined sugar can result in free radicals’ production compared to antioxidants, and so, they distort the balance between these two in the human body. So, it is important to lessen the consumption of processed foods.

2. Are Antioxidants a Cure-All?

Antioxidants aren’t a cure-all as you are always advised to eat a plant-based diet for getting all the phytochemicals, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins for lessening the risk of cancer. 2/3rd of the plant must be filled with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and the 1/3rd of the plate should be filled with lean protein. 

3. Can I Rely on Supplements for Antioxidants?

You must select healthy foods for getting antioxidants in place of supplements. According to research, antioxidant supplements don’t lessen your danger of disease, and in some cases, supplements end up causing overdosage of antioxidants, which can increase your chances of getting infected with cancer.

4. How Far are Antioxidants Helpful For Skin?

You can do a lot of good to your skin when you use topical antioxidant serums besides other components as a huge portion of your regular skin health routine. Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, can prevent and reverse DNA damage that is caused by huge disclosure to the environment.

5. How Far Antioxidants Help Affect Human Metabolism?

Antioxidants affect human metabolism as it changes the redox conditions of the redox-regulated functions. ROS is physiologically important for gene regulation, signal transduction, and redox regulation.