Antioxidants are naturally occurred compounds or substances that ward off oxidation (Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals thereby leading to many chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms) and protect the healthy body cells from damage caused by free radicals which are highly reactive unstable molecules. Free radicals are produced by your body as it is exposed to the environment and other pressures. Antioxidants are also sometimes called free radicals scavengers becuase they neutralize these free radicals. When the amount of free radicals becomes too high in the body it causes oxidative stress which results in many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, immune deficiency, stroke, arthritis, and diabetes.
Plant-based fruits and vegetables are considered arguably the best sources of antioxidants. They can be found both in natural and artificial forms such as supplements. Phytonutrients or plant-based nutrients are one kind of plant-based antioxidants. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are the three major antioxidants vitamins. There is strong evidence that suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants is very healthy.
There are two types of antioxidants. One that is known as endogenous is produced by the body itself and the other is exogenous which is produced outside the body.
How Free Radicals Affect Our Bodies?
Some conditions caused by free radicals include:
Deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to vision loss.
Inflammation of the joints (arthritis).
Damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions (such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease).
Acceleration of the aging process.
Increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to stick to artery walls.
Certain cancers are triggered by damaged cell DNA.
Food Sources that are Rich in Antioxidants
Plant-based food such as fruits and vegetables are considered the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants rich foods are also sometimes called a superfood.
Some of the best food sources of antioxidants are;
Eggs, liver, and dairy are rich in Vitamin A.
Many fruits and vegetables such as berries and oranges are rich in Vitamin C.
Nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin E.
Mangoes, peas, spinach, and carrots are rich in Beta-Carotene.
Wheat, corn, rice, cheese, and legumes are rich in Selenium.
Dark chocolate, goji berries, and pomegranate are also rich sources of antioxidants.
Beef, poultry, oysters, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, cashews, fortified cereals are rich sources of Zinc.
Seafood, lean meat, milk, and nuts are high in copper.
Tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion, and apple are good sources of flavonoids.
Sesame seeds, bran, whole grains, and vegetable are rich in lignans.
Thyme and oregano are rich in polyphenols.
Seafood, lean meat, milk, and nuts are high in manganese.