Antioxidants And The Effects on The Health
Antioxidants are substances that help prevent or stop cell damage caused by free radicals in the human body. Free radicals are also known as oxidants. Antioxidants protect the body cells from free radicals and work by boosting our immunity and preventing diseases. They negate the effect of free radicals and remove them from the bloodstream.
Free radicals are produced naturally in the body and not necessarily harmful, but when antioxidants being produced in the body are insufficient, free radicals can become unrestricted and cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases. A good way of supplementing the antioxidants produced by the body is to eating a diet rich with antioxidants.
Increasing your antioxidant intake helps to provide added protection for the body against diseases and health problems. Antioxidants are good for the heart, lowers the risk of infections and some types of cancer.
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of antioxidants and studies have shown that eating more vegetables and fruits lower the risks of having several diseases.
Sources of Antioxidants
The best sources of antioxidants are plant based foods. Types of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, flavones, catechins, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, polyphenols, lycopene, lutein, phytoestrogens and selenium. These are all found in plant based foods. Each antioxidant performs different functions, hence it is important to have variety in your diet.
To obtain some exact antioxidants, make an effort to eat a diet including the following food and meals:
Vitamin A: Dairy produce, eggs, liver, squash, lettuce and sweet potato
Vitamin C: Most fruits and vegetables, especially berries, oranges, bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower
Vitamin E: Nuts and seeds, sunflower and other vegetable oils, and green, leafy vegetables
Beta-carotene: Fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, peas, spinach, mangoes, sweet potato, cantaloupe and apricot.
Lycopene: Pink and red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, pink guava, papaya, grapefruit and watermelon
Lutein: Green, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, spinach, corn, papaya, and oranges
Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, some fortified cereals and dairy products
Selenium: Tuna, beef, poultry, nuts, eggs, fortified breads, rice, corn, wheat, and other grain products.
Other foods that are believed to be good sources of antioxidants include: apple, eggplants, beans, green and black teas, red grapes, dark chocolate, pomegranates, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, spinach, lentils, dark chocolate, artichokes, kale, red cabbage, beetroot, beans, and spinach.
Avoid overcooking or boiling these foods, eat them raw or lightly steamed, this is to prevent the heat from removing the nutrients and antioxidants. To get the health benefits of antioxidants you must eat foods containing them consistently; daily or regularly. You can do the following to help increase your antioxidant intake:
- Include a fruit every time you eat, meals and snacks included.
- Always take snacks such as nuts, seeds, sunflower seeds and dried fruits. Do not eat the ones spiced with salt or sugar.
- Eat servings of vegetables everyday.
- Have a cup of green tea every day.