What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants play an important role in preventing the development of chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. They are nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in our foods that are capable of counteracting and preventing the damaging, but normal, effects of oxidation in tissue due to free radicals (by-products of metabolic processes). These free radicals are atoms or molecular fragments that have an excess of deficient number of electrons which gives the atoms a type of charge. Because of this unpaired electron it becomes unstable and it will search in your body to either donate or grab electrons which damages cells, proteins, and DNA. This is the process of oxidation in your body. This same oxidation can be observed when apples turn brown and when iron turns to rust. Oxidants can be a result of internal factors like metabolism and aerobic respiration as well as external factors like pollution, sunlight, and smoking. This is when antioxidants come into play by blocking the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. The antioxidants basically volunteer themselves and become oxidized instead of the free radicals breaking down our body cells. A great way to obtain antioxidants is through an adequate diet. Some antioxidant nutrients are vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and selenium.
Here are the best food sources of antioxidants:
* Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, olives, avocado, wheat germ, and leafy green vegetables.
* For good sources of vitamin C, look to citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit. Vitamin C can also be found in broccoli, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
* Common sources of beta-carotene include cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, peppers, spinach, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, and apricots.
*Selenium is found in seafood, lean cut beef, chicken, brown rice, and whole grains.