Cloves are a spice high in antioxidants.

If you visit a supermarket or grocery store today, you will notice that antioxidants are being promoted in many products. Some products show how they are rich in antioxidants, while others are show even the percentage of antioxidants in them. Antioxidants are being promoted by the media, dietitians and nutritionists for various reasons. You may have heard about antioxidants in conjunction with health benefits and preventing diseases, but you may not know how they work in our bodies, their benefits and the best antioxidant foods.

Antioxidants offer numerous health benefits and they have been touted as a likely preventative of diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, vision loss, heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. Recent studies have also suggested that antioxidants can actually be effective in preventing several age related diseases. Many studies show that antioxidant rich foods can help to increase our lifespan, slow the signs of aging and increase energy levels. Many people show improvement in the quality of their skin when they eat antioxidant rich foods.

Antioxidants in Foods

Common forms of antioxidant in foods include melatonin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein, selenium, glutathione and alpha lipoid acids.

Even though there are numerous foods that contribute to overall body health, foods that contain antioxidants have an extraordinary ability to protect the body from the formation of free radicals. They prevent some of the damage caused by free radicals by neutralizing them. Free radicals are toxic to several basic metabolic processes that take place in our bodies on a daily basis. However, if we expose ourselves to high amounts of pollutants such as cigarette smoke or processed foods, our body will have to work harder to neutralize free radicals that form. Foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants helps us neutralize these free radicals and also allow us not to show signs of aging. They also help us to lower our chances for developing various diseases such as stroke, cancer and eye problems.

Antioxidants also help to regulate blood sugar levels, a very important process in preventing obesity, diabetes among many other degenerative diseases. We want less of these free radicals because they are responsible for various degenerative conditions. Free radicals are linked to deterioration of eye lenses, which leads to blindness, create unhealthy cells and are associated with the quickening of the aging process. Many degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer are as a result of increased free radical exposure.

Even though we all have a normal amount of free radicals in our bodies, antioxidants help us to keep the number in a healthy range. A variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grain cereals, tea, herbs and red wine are some of the richest sources of antioxidants. The benefit of eating vegetables, whole grain food and fruits is that they all contain natural antioxidants. A combination of numerous antioxidants has greater health benefits than when an antioxidant is eaten individually.

It is also believed that the antioxidant content tends to be high on the outer layer of the item. Veggies and fruits that have distinctive, bright colors such as oranges, carrots, red tomatoes, yellow corn, and purple blueberries are rich in antioxidants. Fruits that are rich in antioxidants include apple, grapefruit, black and blue berries. Among the vegetables that are also rich antioxidant include kidney beans, pinto beans, carrots, garlic, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collards. Other sources of antioxidants are black and green tea, red wine, herbal tea and ginger.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidants have numerous health benefits. Through various studies, health experts say that getting antioxidants from food is more beneficial than getting them from supplements. Although antioxidants have not been proven to treat any condition, they have been implicated in the prevention of numerous diseases. If you can eat a diet of antioxidants rich foods, some of the health problems you may be able to reduce the risk of include: cancer, heart disease, immune dysfunction, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's.

Different antioxidants offer health benefits to different parts of the body. For example, beta-carotene is a form of antioxidant found in carrots. It protects us against numerous health problems such as breast cancer, stomach cancer, heart disease and lung cancer. Another form of antioxidant known as flavonoids are found in green tea can significantly aid in body health, including whole detoxification, cancer prevention among many other benefits.

Antioxidants are also related with skin benefits. When our skin is exposed to high ultraviolet light, premature aging and skin cancer can occur. Flavonoid found in green tea and wine has the ability to protect skin cells from damage. Flavonoids also help the skin cells to work well even in optimal condition. This helps to reduce signs of aging and wrinkles.

Antioxidants in foods, including minerals, vitamin C, A, and E boost our immune system. Highly reactive compounds that are formed in the body as bi-products after normal body processes are very harmful and can cause numerous health problems. Antioxidants neutralize these harmful products and also help to boost the immune system.

Citrus fruits such as lemons and limes are some of the fruits that are rich in this form of antioxidant.

Other health benefits of antioxidants in food include: ability to lower or stop the rate of inflammation, ability to help in weight loss through increase fat burning capabilities, aid in prevention of several diseases such as diabetes, aid in regulating the body metabolism by creating an optimal level of weight control, can reduce harmful cholesterol forms referred as LDL, protect us against diseases such as heart disease, aid the body in overall detoxification process, help to promote digestive processes among many other health benefits.

Even though antioxidants supplements are considered safe, several studies have suggested that taking a higher dose than the one recommended can be very harmful and possibly toxic. For instance, if you overdose supplements of vitamin E for some time, they can be very harmful. On the other hand, antioxidants in foods offer an array of health benefits that include high fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Many of these foods are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants refer to the naturally occurring compounds which are often found in a variety of vegetables, fruits and grains. A diet rich in antioxidant foods usually assists in building a strong defense against the free radicals.

Also referred to as antioxidant agents, antioxidants can be defined as nutrients which often try to decrease the harmful effects of the free radicals (oxidants) on a person's body cells.As we are all aware, our body cells normally require oxygen for energy and growth. The body cells make use of oxygen to effectively generate energy and sustain life, and release free radicals as bi-products.The deeper, brighter colored vegetables and fruits contain higher concentrations of minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Vitamin E and C are the body's two primary antioxidants.

Antioxidant Rich Foods

Research has proved that antioxidants are substances which can hassle free protect body cells from damage resulted by the unstable molecules referred as free radicals.

Here is a list of antioxidant rich foods:

  • Foods Which Contain Lycopene: Characterized as a potent', lycopene can easily be found in food products such as pink grapefruit, blood oranges, apricots, watermelon, papaya, guava and tomatoes. According to studies, approximately 80 percent of the lycopene which is consumed by people in the USA comes from tomato products.
  • Foods Which Contain Beta-Carotene: Many foods which are green or orange in color usually contain the antioxidant beta- carotene. Some of the example of these kinds of foods include; sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, carrots, squash, apricots, pumpkin, spinach, mangoes, kale and collard greens.
  • Foods Which Contain Vitamin A: Egg yolks, milk, mozzarella cheese, sweet potatoes, carrots and liver are all rich in vitamin A that is found in three main forms i9 .e. retinol (vitamin A1). 3- hydroxyl- retinol (vitamin A3) and 3,4- didehydroretinol (vitamin A2).
  • Foods Which Contain Vitamin C: Vitamin C which is also referred as ascorbic acid is abundant in a variety of vegetables, fruits and fruit juices. It can as well be found in cereals, fish and poultry.
  • Foods Which Contain Vitamin E: Vitamin E also referred as alpha- tocopherol is commonly found in nuts, almonds, broccoli, mangoes and oils like corn, safflower, soybean and wheat germ oils.

Antioxidants That Help Maximize Lifespan

In addition to the aforementioned antioxidants here are other antioxidants found in foods, which can help in maximizing lifespan:

  • Flavonoids: These antioxidants usually play a key role in giving color to fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges and berries are rich sources of flavonoids. It's observed that an individual's mental function normally decline gradually with age. However, this old age aspect can gradually be reduced with a person consuming the given below flavonoids on daily basis; Eriodictyol, Kaempferol, lsorhamnetin, Quercetin, Polyphenols
  • Phytonutrients: Phytonutrients are a group of nutrients which assist in rebuilding damaged cells. They also fight illnesses such as cancer. They are often found in the skins of fruits and vegetables. A person can make use of them if he or she wants to hassle free optimize his or her immune function.
  • Isoflavones: Their capability of preventing diseases is remarkable. Isoflavones are usually concentrated in soybeans. Research has proved that these antioxidants offer tremendous health benefits. Their healing power ability has in the recent years gained a lot of attention. These antioxidants do not only decrease significantly the long- term risks of cancer, but they as well ease the menopause symptoms and improve the bone health. Here are a few of the many isoflavones that you can make use of if you want to improve your immune system; Genistein, Glycitein, Daidzein
  • Zinc: The antioxidant capacity of zinc is typically very high. Various antioxidant properties of dietary zinc can protect a person's body from the various known neurological illnesses. A steady intake of dietary zinc can prevent a person against contracting the nervous system illnesses like mental disturbances. Daily products like milk and cheese are good sources of zinc.
  • Melatonin: Melatonin is one of the most essential antioxidants. It is usually synthesized by our bodies. This antioxidant helps in maintaining normal sleep patterns. The normal levels of this antioxidant in the body assist in increasing sleep efficiency. Though melatonin is present in vegetables, it's mainly found in tomatoes. For you to be in a position to hassle free restore and improve normal sleep pattern, it's important that you ensure that you've got sufficient intake of this antioxidant.
  • Coenzyme Q10: This is another important antioxidant that is often produced in a person's body. It is necessary for the normal functioning of the body cells. Basically, with age, the level of this antioxidant considerably decreases in an individual's body. However, you can be in a position to easily compensate the loss if you resort to eating foods which are rich in coenzyme Q10.This antioxidant which is predominantly found in fish and meat (lamb), promotes cardiac system and healthy gums.

Foods Highest in Antioxidants

  • Fruits: Fruits are normally high in antioxidants. Generally, there are some fruits which contain high antioxidant amounts than others. For instance, wild blueberries have approximately, 13,500 antioxidants per cup as compared to cultivated berries with about 9,000 antioxidants. Though, for fruits, wild blueberries rank highest, dried prunes, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, plums and apple have substantial antioxidant amounts.
  • Vegetables: Recent research has proved that the bean is one of the highest sources of antioxidants. The top of the list is the small red bean with approximately 14,000 antioxidants per cup, closely followed by the pinto and kidney bean with about, 13, 200 and 11, 800, respectively. Potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and spinach are also considered as good sources of antioxidants.
  • Nuts and Grains: As long as they're whole grains, nuts and cereal grains are also excellent sources of antioxidants in the body. Nuts like pecans, with about 5, 000 antioxidants per ounce, offer more antioxidants than some of the other fruits. Cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and macadamia are as well excellent sources of antioxidants.

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