March 21

What Are Antioxidants And Why Are They Good For You?

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High amounts of antioxidants are one of the main reasons behind the popularity of ‘superfoods’, but what actually are antioxidants? Here is an explanation of what antioxidants do, why they are good for you and how you can make sure there are plenty of antioxidants in your diet.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances which help reverse the harmful effects of oxidative stress, a process by which free radicals—which are highly unstable molecules obtained partly through exposure to air pollution and cigarette smoke—trigger cellular damage. Oxidative stress is believed to contribute to the development of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and several types of cancer. There are many types of antioxidants, but the main ones which protect cells from the damaging effect of free radicals include flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids.

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How can I increase my antioxidant intake through my diet?

Antioxidants are mainly present in plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and herbs. The good news for chocolate lovers is that antioxidants are also present in cocoa and, therefore, in dark chocolate!

Chocolate aside, the best way to make sure that you have plenty of antioxidants in your body is to eat a varied diet which includes plenty of plant-based foods. Vitamin C is present in citrus fruits (such as lemons and oranges), strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, white potatoes and cruciferous fruits—which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Vitamin E is contained in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocado, spinach, asparagus, Swiss chard and, once again, tomatoes and broccoli. Finally, carotenoids are found in yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangos, oranges, spinach, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes and, of course, carrots.

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Another type of antioxidant, called flavonoids, is present in tea and in many other foods, including dark chocolate, apples, sweet potatoes, fava beans, pears, cherries, guava, blackberries and even red wine. If you are into green tea, an excellent way to consume plenty of antioxidants is to drink matcha, a special type of green tea typical of Japan. Online matcha store aprikamatcha.com sells premium organic matcha as well as matcha sets to help you prepare the drink in the traditional way. You can also put matcha in smoothies, lattes, ice cream and baked goods.

Should I take antioxidant supplements?

Antioxidants are naturally present in many food sources, and can also be manufactured in a lab. However, most clinical trials related to the effectiveness of antioxidant supplements have found them to be ineffective, and some studies have even linked the use of certain antioxidant supplements with an increased risk of lung cancer, prostate cancer and hemorrhagic stroke. It is best, therefore, to get your supply of antioxidants not from artificially made supplements but from your diet.

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In conclusion …

Consuming plenty of antioxidants is an important way to prevent cell damage and, therefore, minimize the risk of developing chronic disease. Thankfully, with a varied diet it’s easy to ensure that you are eating enough antioxidants!


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