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10 Super Powerful Natural Antioxidants that are available to you in your food plate
Nature has a way of providing us with everything we need to stay healthy. One of the most important gifts that nature offers is antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect our cells from harmful free radicals that can cause damage to our bodies. Free radicals are a product of something called Oxidative stress.
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress refers to a process that occurs when the body’s antioxidant defenses are overwhelmed by the production of free radicals. These free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and DNA, leading to premature aging, inflammation, and various diseases.
You can also say that it is a physiological process that occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to counteract or neutralize them.
ROS are molecules that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA, leading to cellular dysfunction and even death.
This process can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to environmental toxins, poor diet, and aging.
For example, smoking and exposure to air pollution can increase the production of ROS and lead to oxidative stress in the body.
In addition, a diet high in processed foods and sugar can also contribute to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been linked to a number of health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, can help neutralize ROS and reduce oxidative stress in the body.
Oxidative stress can be caused by a range of factors including environmental toxins, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and physical and emotional stress.
In order to counteract the effects of oxidative stress, the body relies on antioxidants, which can be found in a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Examples of diseases associated with oxidative stress include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
Where can we get antioxidants?
They are found in many foods, and some of the best sources of antioxidants can be found right in our own kitchens.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 natural antioxidants found in common foods and how they can benefit your health.
What are natural antioxidants and why are they better than synthetic ones?
Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and cause diseases.
Antioxidants can be either natural or synthetic. Synthetic antioxidants are man-made and are often added to processed foods to prolong their shelf life.
However, natural antioxidants are found in many unprocessed foods and are often more effective than their synthetic counterparts.
One of the reasons why natural antioxidants are better than synthetic ones is because they are more bioavailable. This means that they are more easily absorbed by the body and can be used more effectively.
There is increasing evidence that antioxidants are more effective when obtained from whole foods, rather than isolated from a food and presented in tablet form.BetterHealth.com
Additionally, natural antioxidants often work synergistically with other compounds in food, providing a more comprehensive benefit. Synthetic antioxidants, on the other hand, can have negative side effects when consumed in large amounts.
Functions of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that protect our cells against damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, causing something called oxidative stress, and contribute to aging and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In short, the functions of antioxidants in our body are-
- Neutralize free radicals, which can cause damage to cells and DNA
- Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
- Improve skin health and slow down aging
- Boost immune system
- Protect against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s
Which are the top 10 natural antioxidants found in our foods
Here are the top ten antioxidants found in foods, with their values in 100 grams and their functions in our body:
- Vitamin C – 53.2 mg – helps boost immune system, aids in collagen production, and protects against oxidative stress.
- Vitamin E – 5.8 mg – protects cell membranes and helps maintain healthy skin and eyes.
- Beta-carotene – 8,450 mcg – helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and supports immune system.
- Selenium – 70.7 mcg – helps prevent oxidative damage to cells and supports healthy thyroid function.
- Polyphenols – Varies – found in many plant-based foods such as tea, cocoa, and berries, these compounds have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Lycopene – 4,616 mcg – found in tomatoes, supports heart health and may reduce risk of some cancers.
- Anthocyanins and flavonoids- One example of flavonoid is Quercetin and that of anthocyanin Cyanidin. They are found in colored fruits and veggies and their values varies from food item to item. They are found in blueberries, cranberries, and other colorful fruits. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Resveratrol- found in grapes and red wine, may help reduce inflammation and lower risk of heart disease.
- Glutathione – found in asparagus, avocado, and spinach, this antioxidant helps protect cells from damage and supports immune system.
- Coenzyme Q10 – found in oily fish and organ meats, may improve heart health and reduce inflammation.
It’s important to note that the values of these antioxidants can vary depending on the specific type of food and how it’s prepared.
Consuming a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can help ensure you are getting a variety of antioxidants to support your health.
Top food having these 10 natural antioxidants
The 10 natural antioxidants that I have mentioned above are all present in these foods, not all athe same time but a little bit of this and a little bit of that-
- Berries – Berries are some of the most antioxidant-rich foods available. They are packed with anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Some of the best berries for antioxidants include red grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.
- Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavanols, which are natural antioxidants. Flavanols have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Nuts – Nuts are a great source of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes from damage. Some of the best nuts for antioxidants include almonds, walnuts, and pistachios.
- Green tea – Green tea is a rich source of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It also contains catechins, which are compounds that can help improve brain function and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Spices – Many spices are rich in antioxidants, particularly ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon. These spices have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
- Leafy greens – Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help protect against cellular damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Lycopene is also beneficial for heart health and may help reduce the risk of stroke.
- Beans – Beans are a great source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
- Whole grains – Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium. These antioxidants help protect against cellular damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Cruciferous vegetables – Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help protect against cellular damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
How to incorporate these 10 natural antioxidants containing foods into your diet
Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet is easy and delicious. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Add berries to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal
- Snack on nuts or dark chocolate between meals
- Drink green tea instead of coffee or soda
- Use spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon to flavor your meals
- Add leafy greens to your salads or smoothies
- Use tomatoes in soups, stews, and sauces
- Add beans to your salads, soups, or casseroles
- Substitute whole grains for refined grains in your meals
- Add cruciferous vegetables to your stir-fries or roasted vegetables
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you’ll not only get the benefits of antioxidants but also enjoy a wide range of other nutrients that are important for your health.
Antioxidant supplements vs. Whole foods – which is better?
While antioxidant supplements may seem like an easy way to get your daily dose of antioxidants, they are not always the best choice. In fact, studies have shown that antioxidant supplements may actually increase the risk of certain diseases such as prostate cancer and heart disease.
Whole foods, on the other hand, are a much better choice. In addition to providing antioxidants, whole foods are also a great source of other important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole foods are also less likely to have negative side effects when consumed in large amounts.
Myths and misconceptions about antioxidants
There are many myths and misconceptions about antioxidants. Here are some of the most common:
- Myth: More is better. While it’s true that antioxidants are important for our health, it’s not true that more is always better. Consuming excessive amounts of antioxidants can actually have negative side effects.
- Myth: Antioxidants can cure cancer. While antioxidants may have anti-cancer properties, they cannot cure cancer on their own. Cancer is a complex disease that requires a multifaceted approach to treatment.
- Myth: Synthetic antioxidants are just as good as natural ones. Synthetic antioxidants are often added to processed foods to prolong their shelf life. However, they are not as effective as natural antioxidants and can have negative side effects when consumed in large amounts.
Antioxidant recipes and meal ideas
Here are some delicious recipes and meal ideas that are rich in antioxidants:
- Mixed berry smoothie: Blend together mixed berries, Greek yogurt, and almond milk for a tasty and antioxidant-rich breakfast.
- Dark chocolate trail mix: Mix together dark chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit for a delicious and healthy snack.
- Green tea latte: Brew green tea and add steamed milk for a healthy and refreshing drink.
- Turmeric roasted vegetables: Toss vegetables such as cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts with turmeric and roast for a flavorful and antioxidant-rich side dish.
- Spinach and berry salad: Toss together spinach, mixed berries, and feta cheese for a delicious and healthy salad.
The future of antioxidants in food and nutrition
As research on antioxidants continues, we are likely to see more foods and supplements that are specifically designed to provide these important compounds. Additionally, we may see a greater emphasis on the role of antioxidants in preventing and treating chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants are important compounds that help protect our bodies from harmful free radicals. By incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into our diet, we can enjoy a wide range of health benefits. From berries to nuts and spices, there are many delicious and nutritious options to choose from. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to stock up on these natural superfoods and enjoy the power of nature!
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My next article will be on the different Allergies we encounter that affects our health, sometimes in an adverse way.