This article is a continuation of What are Antioxidants? (An Overviews – Part I)
Antioxidants are an important part of good health, both for protecting future health and for preventing damage from free radicals. The question inevitably becomes what are antioxidants?
Antioxidants can be summed up simply as being buffers that stabilize free radicals and keep them from becoming a chain reaction that damages cells and cause disease.
The physiological makeup free radicals are unstable and highly reactive. These molecules are missing an electron and once inside the body they take the missing electron from healthy cells, making them become unstable. This chain reaction continues on ultimately causing cell damage.
Antioxidants are compounds found in foods, particularly plant foods that have high concentrations of phytonutrients. The molecules in these compounds are able to stop the chain reaction by giving the free radical a molecule to stop its ravaging while not becoming a free radical in the process.
Essentially, antioxidants are nature’s answer to the pollutants that invade the body and cause disease and sickness.
Knowing what antioxidants are is only partial knowledge. Knowing where to find antioxidants is more important. Most healthy, well-balanced diets include foods that are rich in antioxidants, for those times when eating healthy is not an option, there are antioxidant supplements.
Fruits and vegetables are the best natural sources of antioxidants. The phytonutrient content is high, especially in richly colored fruits and vegetables. Red, yellow, orange and green all signify antioxidant power and should be included in a daily diet.
Vegetables that are rich in antioxidants include broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, and red peppers. Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetable all are powerful antioxidants that provide the needed protection against free radical damage.
Fruits that are high in antioxidants include all berries, particularly blueberries and the most recent discovery, the Acai berry. Kiwi, mango, watermelon and citrus fruits are also high in antioxidants.
In the United States and other countries, many people receive large amounts of antioxidants on a daily basis through the beverages they drink, even if they don’t realize they are getting them.
Teas, including black, white, green, and oolong varieties, are full of antioxidant powers. Coffee is another antioxidant rich beverage; however, adding cream reduces the health benefits drastically.
The amount of tea and coffee consumed in many countries is tremendous. However, due to many tea and coffee drinkers adding cream to it the antioxidant powers are reduced.
Knowing what antioxidants are is the first step in taking control of future health and insuring that there is some form of protection for the heart.
In addition to providing protection for the body against diseases, antioxidants offer the added benefit of slowing the signs of aging. Wrinkles, liver spots, and even mental capacity can all benefit from antioxidant power.
Antioxidants are a vital part of any nutritious diet and nature has made it possible to include them by adding fruits and vegetables, something most diets already include.