Antioxidants are a group of compounds that fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress in the body. Some examples of antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium and flavonoids. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an excess of free radicals, which can wreak havoc on the body by reacting with our cells and damaging them in the process. This can lead to accelerated aging and higher risk of chronic diseases.
What Are Free Radicals?
The key to understanding how free radicals react with our cells and negatively affect our body lies in their structure. Free radicals are unstable molecules with a missing electron, which causes them to seek out other cells and steal electrons from them in a process called oxidation. This damages cell components such as DNA, proteins and cell membranes — which, over time, can lead to cell mutation or cell death.
How Do Antioxidants Fight Free Radicals?
Antioxidants neutralise free radicals by donating electrons to stabilise them so they stop stealing electrons from other cells. Antioxidants are stable enough not to be damaged by the donation process. Our body works on a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. As we face increased free radical production in our modern lives, it is important to find ways to increase our antioxidant intake to keep up with free radicals and keep them in check.
How Are Free Radicals Produced?
Free radicals are a byproduct that is naturally produced by our body’s cells when they perform metabolic processes like breaking down food. However, their production can also be accelerated by a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors such as:
- Exposure to air pollution
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Exposure to the sun’s UV radiation
- Alcohol intake
- Consuming foods high in sugar
- Diet high in fat and oils commonly found in fried food
In our modern lives we are constantly exposed to these factors, driving free radical production into overdrive. As a result, free radicals have been linked to the following illnesses and conditions due to continued cell damage from oxidative stress:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Hardening of blood vessels
- Parkinson’s disease
How Can We Reduce The Number Of Free Radicals In Our Body?
We can reduce the number of free radicals in our body by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, maintaining an acceptable weight and reducing our exposure to environmental factors that lead to increased free radical production. Exercising regularly, reducing stress, avoiding vices like smoking and wearing adequate sun protection are all ways to protect ourselves from free radicals.
Diet also plays a significant role in controlling free radicals. Besides limiting your intake of alcohol and foods high in sugar and fat, one of the best ways to reduce the number of free radicals in your body is to eat more foods that are high in antioxidants.
Which Foods Are High In Antioxidants?
Foods that are high in antioxidants include a variety of superfoods like seeds, fruits and vegetables that are naturally healthy and come chock full of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health in other areas. It is important to consume a mixture of these high antioxidant foods as each serves a different function.
● Dark-Coloured Grapes
Red, blue and purple grapes are excellent sources of antioxidants thanks to their high amounts of vitamin C and selenium. They are also full of phytochemicals like flavonoids and resveratrol, which are natural compounds used by plants to protect themselves against bacterial invasions. Grapes improve our immune health and protect against cancer and heart diseases.
Blueberries, raspberries and cranberries are the top sources of antioxidants when it comes to fruits. Raspberries in particular contain ellagic acid,which is a natural plant antioxidant that removes toxins, fights cancer, inflammation and aids in burning fat to reduce obesity. Berries are also full of phytochemicals that aid our immune system.
● Seeds and Seed Oils
Seeds are a great source of antioxidants, healthy fats and fibre. Chia seeds, raspberry seeds, black cumin seeds, grape seeds and cranberry seeds are all nutrient-dense superfoods that help reduce cholesterol, blood sugar and promote anti-inflammation.
Cold-pressed seed oils are an excellent way to fulfill your body’s daily requirements for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Cold-pressing at low temperatures protects and preserves all the nutritional benefits for better body health.
● Dark Leafy Vegetables
Broccoli, spinach and lettuce are great for your daily dose of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene in particular inhibits cancer growth and prevent cardiovascular disease. These vegetables are also high in minerals like magnesium and potassium, which are vital for well-functioning heart and kidneys.
● Whole Grains
Whole grains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread contains more zinc and selenium than their white counterparts. Zinc and selenium are antioxidants that can improve the functions of our immune system, protect us against cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases and cognitive decline.
Consuming all the foods on this list every day can be a daunting prospect. Thankfully there is an easier way to get our daily dose of antioxidants and nutrients to reduce free radicals and improve our quality of life. Visit axxaglobal.com to find out how you can reap the benefits of superfoods with an all-natural botanical beverage mix.