Food: Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cellular health and overall well-being. They reduce the damage caused by exposure to free radicals, compounds around us that cause cellular stress. Antioxidants are found primarily in colorful plant foods such as leafy greens, nuts, and berries.
This article explains why antioxidants are good for you and the best places to find them in your diet.Read more: Sawan Special Recipe: Make delicious and healthy Makhana Barfi in the month of Sawan.
Why are antioxidants healthy?
Every day, our cells are exposed to compounds called free radicals, which are unstable molecules that are regularly produced in our bodies as a normal byproduct of metabolism. For example, our bodies produce free radicals after exposure to environmental toxins, certain foods we eat, and ultraviolet light.
However, free radicals also serve several beneficial purposes for our health. For example, they are deployed by the immune system to fight infection. 1 The key is to balance free radicals and antioxidants in the body so that both can do their job but don’t cross the line into being harmful.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals through the process of transferring electrons. It helps “shut down” free radicals from damaging our cells and DNA. Without antioxidants, free radicals will have devastating effects on our health.
In particular, a regular supply of antioxidants through food has been linked to a reduced risk of conditions such as heart disease, cancer and other ailments.
Types of antioxidants in different food groups
Antioxidants play an important role in supporting and protecting our health. The same applies to plants, animals and other living things with antioxidant defense mechanisms.
Well, antioxidants are found naturally in many foods that you can already include in your diet. While they are primarily found in whole plant foods, there are also some animal-derived sources of antioxidants.
- Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and can also regenerate other antioxidants. Find vitamin C in citrus fruits, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers.
- Vitamin E is composed of eight forms of E, but α-tocopherol Most active in the human body. You can find it in foods like spinach, broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds and kiwi.
- Lycopene is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in red and pink foods such as watermelon, tomatoes, pink grapes and goji berries.
- Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that occurs in the soil, where plants take it up as they grow. The most concentrated food source is Brazil nuts, although they are also found in mushrooms, brown rice, and oats.
- Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in your body. It is found in orange, red and green foods such as carrots, spinach, kale and watermelon.
- “Polyphenols” is a broad term for groups of antioxidant pigments such as anthocyanins, isoflavones, and flavanones. You can get polyphenols from foods like berries, leafy vegetables, apples, garbanzo beans, watermelon, oranges, and celery.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that include alpha-linoleic acid acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid acid (DHA). You can find ALA in plant foods like flaxseed, small amounts of which are converted to EPA and DHA in the body. The best direct sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel. You can also get it from oils derived from algae or fish.
- Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble pigment and carotenoid found in marine organisms, such as wild-caught salmon, shrimp, and algae.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant found in oily fish and some nuts and meats.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it outlines that the best way to include antioxidants in your diet is to eat a variety of healthy, less processed foods. The best sources are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and some fish.
The dangers of a low antioxidant diet
Eating foods low in antioxidants may increase your risk of disease. Without antioxidants, your cells are more susceptible to free radical damage.
Dietary patterns high in saturated and trans fat, sodium and added sugar, but low in fiber and antioxidants promote the development of chronic diseases.
Research shows that eating this way negatively alters the community of bacteria in your digestive tract, called your gut microbiome.
Comparison of antioxidants in food vs supplements
Antioxidants are also sold in supplement form, often advertised as “ultra” or “high dose.” Although the marketing may be interesting, more antioxidants is not always better. And, antioxidants are not necessarily better than others. Combination is best.
While taking high amounts of isolated antioxidants can harm your health, their risks outweigh their potential benefits.
(GSH) is an antioxidant that your body produces. Although it has anti-cancer benefits, research shows that excess GSH promotes the growth of cancerous tumors.
Research also suggests that it is not necessarily the antioxidant itself that provides the benefit, but how it works with other compounds in whole foods to provide benefits.
A small randomized controlled trial found that, when healthy participants were given the same amount of orange juice or sugar water with vitamin C, orange juice provided significantly more antioxidant benefits.
Overall, the best way to get a variety of antioxidants in the safest and most beneficial way is to eat antioxidant-rich foods.
Consider antioxidant-forward foods
If you’re looking for ways to include more antioxidants in your diet, consider these ideas:
- A smoothie made with blueberries, spinach, kale and flax seeds
- A bowl of oatmeal topped with raspberries, chia seeds and cinnamon
- A mixed green salad that combines kale, spinach, and arugula with red cabbage, strawberries, pecans, and beans.
- Grilled salmon on a bed of quinoa with roasted beets and artichokes
- Baked sweet potatoes stuffed with black beans, salsa, avocado cubes and cheese
- Banana and Blueberry Muffins with Walnuts, Chia Seeds and Cinnamon
- Breakfast made with tofu, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli and onions
- White bean soup with chopped vegetables and garlic
- Peanut Soup with Quinoa and Spinach
- Avocado, leafy greens and hummus tortilla wrap sandwich
The best way to get the benefits of antioxidants in the diet is to include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and some fish.
Carlson MH, Halvorson BL, Holte K, et al. Total antioxidant content of over 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.
Consider what you currently eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and identify some places where you can incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods into your regular routine.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect us from the effects of disease and aging. While your body does make some antioxidants, it’s important to include them in your diet regularly. They are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and some fish like salmon.
It is best to get your antioxidants from high-dose antioxidant supplements rather than from these types of minimally processed foods, as these can have negative health effects. You probably already consume antioxidants and can add others to your meals and snacks with a little effort.