We all try to eat healthy and feed our families right. You may have heard a lot about antioxidants lately and that they are good for you. It may leave you wondering what they are and what the benefits are. When you hear the answer to this you will likely be wanting to hear about antioxidant rich foods. This blog post will talk about antioxidants meaning, why antioxidants are good for you, and fruits with antioxidants.
Antioxidants And Free Radicals
So what is the meaning of antioxdants?, Well, they are by defined by Merriam Webster a substance that inhibits oxidation. Antioxidants function as a natural defense system against free radicals. The question then becomes, what are free radicals?
When we breath oxygen, it interacts with certain molecules in our bodies to create free radicals and these free radicals damage important cellular structures such as DNA and cell membranes. This damage may cause cells to function poorly and mutate. Free radical damage may lead to disease and aging. Every time you breathe, you take in free radical molecules created by cigarette smoke, radiation, and vehicle emissions. Every time you eat, you consume free radicals in the form of pesticides and preservatives.
How Antioxidants Are Good For You
Free Radical Protection
Antioxidants benefit us by helping to protecting us against free radicals in our environment. Our immune system creates antioxidants which are able to neutralize free radicals and prevent much cellular damage. We can also consume antioxidants in our diet in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, some meat, poultry and fish. I bet you may recognize these antioxidants: vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Less well known examples include luetin, lycopene, and maganese. Research shows that zinc and selenium provide an antioxidant function as well.
There has been much talk about antioxidants preventing heart disease which is so deadly that it results in an average of 1 death every 34 seconds. The American Heart Association says, “Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol is important in the development of fatty buildups in the arteries. This process, called atherosclerosis, can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Increasing evidence suggests that LDL cholesterol lipoprotein oxidation and its biological effects can be prevented by using antioxidants — both in the diet and in supplements.” In 1993, Harvard University researchers reported that supplemental doses of vitamin E actually reduced the risk of heart disease by as much as 54 percent!
Cancer Rate And Antioxidants Selenium
What effects can antioxidants have on the big “C” word? This is a question that all of us are dying to know since cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. Selenium, an antioxidant mineral, can help protect against breast cancer. One expert, Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer of the University of California at San Diego, stated, “If every woman in America started taking selenium supplements or had a high-selenium diet, then within a few years the breast cancer rate in this country would drastically decline.” And according to a study by Dr. Larry Clark of the University of Arizona, 200 micrograms daily of selenium cut the rate of prostate cancer by 69% and lung cancer by 34%.
Antioxidants may even help us live longer. The theory is that if free radical damage causes aging, antioxidants in high enough quantities should be able to slow aging. According to one UCLA study, 300 milligrams of Vitamin C a day can add 6 years to a man’s life and one year to a woman’s life.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
Antioxidants are made naturally by your body but supplementation is needed from food or other sources . The highest concentrations of antioxidants are found in the most deeply or brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as spinach, red bell peppers, raspberries, carrots, apricots, pomegranates, and tomatoes.
You can also find antioxidant supplements on the market. However, anyone considering taking supplements should speak to a health care provider first.
Fruits With Antioxidants
Of all the fruits with antioxidants, the berries seem to pack the biggest punch.
Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all of the common fruits due to their flavonoid compounds.
According to Healthline, “The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to reduce a predominant risk factor for heart disease by preventing oxidative damage to “bad” LDL cholesterol.”
Strawberry have high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols and are a good source of manganese and potassium.
According to WebMD, “These potent little packages protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer.”
Raspberries have lots of antioxidants from flavonoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin.
According to Medical News Today, “There is evidence that vitamins C and E may help protect a person’s ability to think and remember information as they get older. Raspberries contain these antioxidant vitamins.” They also say, “The National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source note that antioxidants from dietary sources may help protect the body from lung, esophageal, gastric, and other types of cancer.”
Blackberries have high levels of antioxidants from compounds such as anthocyanins.
Accoring to BBC Good Food, “A study published by the Nutrition & Cancer Journal also found that certain fresh blackberry extracts may help prevent tumour growth and the spread of cancer, although more research is required.”
It is amazing just how many excellent nutrients are in different foods. That is why it is always a good idea to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to make sure you are getting a balanced diet. There are actually diseases caused due to the insufficient intake of certain essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. A well balanced diet to can leave you best prepared to fight disease as well. Since we are what we eat, pay attention what you are putting into your body.
I hope I have helped you see clearly why antioxidants are good for you. They are important for all of us to strengthen and protect our immune systems and to help guard against disease. So now that you know what antioxidants are and how they can be beneficial to your health, you can feel extra good about chomping down some high antioxidant berries, pecans, or red kidney beans!
Any information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should definitely consult with a healthcare professional about any health concerns you may have.