WHAT IS AN ANTIOXIDANT?

Unsurprisingly, Antioxidants come up often in discussions regarding good health and the prevention of a whole host of diseases. These powerful substances most commonly found in the fresh fruits and vegetables, prevent the oxidation of molecules in the body.

The benefits of Antioxidants are very important for good health. If free radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a whole host of diseases and illnesses. If you want to boost your body’s health and need a helping hand to supercharge your well-being, then try some of the nutrient-dense nature-based foods rich in Antioxidants.

The more scientists investigate foods, the more Antioxidants they discover. Some are far more powerful than others – for example the flavonoids in apple skin provide more Antioxidant power than the vitamin C in the white flesh and each one has a different function. Quercetin, one of the flavonoids found in apple skins, helps with pollen allergies, whereas vitamin C is great for your blood vessels.

Although Antioxidants include certain vitamins, they also include minerals such as selenium and flavonoids found in a variety of plants. These can also be found in red wine and teas and if you prefer, you can also buy Antioxidants over the counter in the form of supplements. However, it is preferable to get your Antioxidant supply from eating a healthy diet.

If you are fortunate enough to enjoy good health, there is no real need to focus on any single Antioxidant as we need a variety of antioxidants to neutralise the huge variety of free radicals that exist. No single Antioxidant will ever do the job of multiple ones.

MIRACULOUS ARTICHOKES

Artichokes are one of nature’s miracle foods. They are brimming with Phytonutrients and Antioxidants. Needless to say artichokes are an old fashioned vegetable that has been gracing tables for centuries.

This remarkably humble vegetable assists in boosting the body’s immunity against numerous illnesses. Powerful nutrients found in artichokes are especially helpful in inhibiting the growth of harmful cells. Artichokes have extremely high levels of Vitamin C which maintain a healthy immune system. Furthermore, artichokes contain Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and folate. Boil artichokes in water for about forty minutes and serve them with mayonnaise and lemon butter or add them to dishes such as pasta and pizza.

OTHER GREAT CHOICES:

Below are foods high in Antioxidants, so try to include as many of these as possible in your everyday diet. These foods should be fresh, raw and organic.

Corn, lime, kale, lemons, dates, prunes, mangoes, grapes, garlic, cloves, chilies, apricots, cinnamon, broccoli, oregano, berries, squash, almonds, peppers, carrots, olive oil, tomatoes, green tea, coconut oil, red beets, spinach, pinto and broad beans, wheat germ, whole grain brown rice, sweet potatoes, blood oranges, rye and barley and raw nuts and seeds.

TOP ANITIOXIDANT FOODS:

These free-radical fighting Antioxidants help you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, help prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Not only that, they speed up recovery from exercise that means more muscle and less fat on your body in the long run.

STRAWBERRIES: Bursting with fibre and vitamin C, a cup of sliced strawberries
is a cup full of health benefits.

BLUEBERRIES: This superfood is good for your health and can help protect
your skin from premature aging. Blueberries reduce the risk of
urinary tract infections and improve vision.

CRANBERRIES: One cup of whole cranberries is full of disease-fighting and
health-boosting Antioxidants and reduces the risk of urinary
tract infections.

PEACHES: Peaches are rich in beta carotene, vitamins A and C, fibre, iron,
thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, potassium, magnesium
and phosphorus.

BLACKBERRIES: One cup of blackberries contains the most antioxidants of all the berries tested, beating blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries. Plus one cup provides ½ your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

RASPBERRIES: A super-healthy berry to add to your diet, one cup of
raspberries is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C (54 q percent of your daily recommended intake).

COFFEE: Not only does coffee help keep us alert, it reduces the risk of
diabetes and Parkinson’s disease and also stimulates enzymes
that protect against colon cancer.

WALNUTS: Walnuts are loaded with antioxidants. They’re cholesterol-free
and low in sodium and sugar. Nuts are laden with calories,
though, so be mindful of your intake.

GROUND CLOVES: Just a teaspoon of ground cloves can do wonders for your body. Spice up your meals and boost your health at the same time.

PECAN NUTS: Pecan nuts are rich in antioxidants. They increase metabolic
rate, enhance satiety and play a role in protecting the nervous
system.

These are only some examples of foodstuffs rich in Antioxidants.

DISEASES:
Many experts believe that Antioxidants play a role in the development of diseases of the blood vessels, cancer, atherosclerosis as well as other conditions. Although the human body naturally produces free radicals as well as Antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects, free radicals can outstrip the naturally-occurring Antioxidants.

In order to keep the balance, a continuous supply of external sources of Antioxidants is necessary to obtain maximum benefits. It is safe to say that Antioxidants benefit the body through the neutralisation and the removal of free radicals from the bloodstream.

There are different ways that one can become exposed to free radicals.

  • Pollutants are one of the biggest culprits.
  • You can become exposed to free radicals through by-products of normal functions that take place in your body – these include the release of digestive enzymes and the breaking down of sugars for energy.
  • Antioxidants also play a role in the management and the prevention of some medical conditions – these include certain types of cancer, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s as well as arthritis-related disorders.

A good example is people with diabetes. These individuals seem to generate large amounts of free radicals and studies have indicated that Vitamins E and C as well as alpha-lipoic acid could help the condition. Coenzyme Q-10 has been particularly helpful in reversing heart conditions in which the heart muscle seems to lack the energy to pump blood.

Lutein improves visual acuity in individuals that have severe eye disorders which include macular degeneration as well as cataracts. Lycopene has been known to reduce the size of prostate tumors.

ANTIOXIDANTS AND YOUR SKIN:

When your skin becomes exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light, photo-oxidative damage occurs due to the formation of a variety of reactive species of oxygen – these are singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals and peroxide radicals.

These reactive oxygen radicals damage cellular lipids, proteins and DNA and are considered to be the main causes of sunburn, premature ageing of the skin and cause skin cancers and photo dermatoses.

Astaxanthin, followed by beta-carotene combined with Vitamin E has proved to be one of the most beneficial Antioxidant combinations to assist in protecting your skin from reactive species of oxygen.

ANTIOXIDANTS AND IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT:

Astaxanthin and Spirulina enhance both the non-specific and specific immune systems and protect cell membranes as well as cellular DNA from mutation. Astaxanthin is the single most powerful quencher of single oxygen and is up to ten times stronger than other carotenoids and as much as 500 times stronger than alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E). Spirulina, on the other hand, has a variety of Antioxidants and other substances that are beneficial in boosting the immune system.

THERE ARE OTHER WAYS THAT ANTIOXIDANTS CAN BENEFIT YOUR HEALTH:

Pollution, stress, prolonged use of antibiotics – these are only some of the reasons why one should ensure that you take good care of your health. The human body cannot keep up with Antioxidant production and because a large amount of these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and enzymes are derived from one’s daily diet, it might be a good idea to boost your Antioxidant intake which can assist in protecting your body against:

  • Heart Issues
  • Eye problems
  • Memory loss
  • Mood disorders
  • Immune systems challenges

It is advisable to consult with your pharmacist, medical practitioner or nutritionist before taking Antioxidant supplements (in order to optimise the potential benefits that various different Antioxidants offer). There is no time like the present to embark on a healthy eating plan.

Start off right away by incorporating a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet and soon you will reap the benefits of good dietary choices.