What are Antioxidants, and How can They Benefit You?

(Guest post by Darlene Mills — Thanks Darlene!)
How do Antioxidants Work?

A lot of antioxidants are being offered in the market, all of which boast of making your health and lifestyle better. But for starters, what exactly are antioxidants? These are substances and nutrients found in the food we eat which can prevent or at least slow down oxidative damage to our bodies. More precisely, they inhibit the process of oxidation in our bodies. This produces free radicals which can then start chain reactions – when these occur in a cell, it can cause damage and even death. What antioxidants do is to stop these chain reactions by getting rid of free radical intermediates and inhibiting other oxidation reactions. In a nutshell (and in less complicated terms), these antioxidants act as ‘free radical scavengers’ which exterminate these free radicals and prevent any damage caused by them.

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What are Some Common Antioxidants?

  • Selenium – found in fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
  • Vitamin C – citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, limes), green pepper, green veggies, strawberries and tomatoes
  • Vitamin E – whole grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, vegetable oil and liver oil
  • Vitamin A and Carotenoids –broccoli, squash, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes and peaches
  • Common phytochemicals
  1. Lycopene (tomatoes, watermelons and grapefruits)
  2. Lutein (veggies)
  3. Lignan (oatmeal, barley, rye)
  4. Flavonoids (soy, red wine, cranberries, pomegranate, tea)

What Health Benefits can Antioxidants Provide?

Health problems such as macular degeneration, heart diseases, diabetes and cancer are all due to oxidative damage and can be prevented by antioxidants. For this reason, antioxidants are widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements.

The brain is very prone to oxidative damage due to a high level of polyunsaturated lipids. Because of this, antioxidants are usually used to treat various brain injuries. Compounds like NXY-059 and Ebselen were seen to prevent oxidative stress in neurons and prevent apoptosis. People who eat fruits and veggies are also at less risk of having heart and neurological diseases, more so for those who take Vitamin E supplements.
Initial studies may have promoted the health benefits of antioxidants, but larger clinical trials show that there is actually no benefit and that too much of it is harmful. But what’s important to take from this is that antioxidants promote a healthier lifestyle. It’s better to obtain them from food rather than supplements; minimize oxidative stress and you’re in for better health benefits. Be sure to consult your doctor before consuming any type of antioxidant supplement.

Bio: Darlene Mills is a nutritionist and health expert specializing in antioxidants and their multiple benefits for the body. She has written for various health magazines, acts as a consultant for Whole Health Product Inc.

2 Responses to What are Antioxidants, and How can They Benefit You?
  1. Grape Seed Oil Extract

    Thanks for this very informative article. I learned the various foods that we should eat to get the antioxidant that we need in our body to boost our immune system, thus preventing diseases.

  2. Bobby Blackwell

    We often neglect the importance of anti-oxidants. The benefits of these anti-oxidants are supplement for the stressful life we are currently in right now. Health is wealth as they say and it is good to have a protection.

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