Antioxidants are compounds that protect our cells from oxidation. Oxidation is something that happens when we are exposed to things like pollution, excess sun, toxic substances, and also from immune system responses. Our cells have a specific “fat” layer that protects them from being damaged. When toxic substances like free radicals come in, they disrupt that layer and the cell may be damaged. So what if one cell damaged? Not much, your body will regenerate. However, if you multiply this by 1,000,000, then you have a lot of damaged cells. When we eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts such as blueberries, avocados and almonds, we can actually prevent some of this damage. Think of free radicals as unstable thieves trying to rob people for their belongings. Because they are unstable, they try to take things from other people to make themselves rich and stable. Does this sound like anyone you know? Free radicals work as a domino effect, where more damage to our cells gives them more power! Therefore something has to be done to stop them! Antioxidants work as superheroes to prevent this damage by donating themselves to these destructive free radicals, and therefore the healthy cells are no longer hurt. Of course the process is slightly more complicated, but for now let’s think of this as the antioxidants’ main job.
So where are antioxidants found? Nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, E, beta-carotene and selenium are a few of the main ones, and they can be found in fruits and vegetables, as well as Medivin. What can they do for you? Vitamin E supports your immune system, and is great even as a topical for your skin. Vitamin C is needed for the making of collagen, DNA, hormones, neurotransmitters and even carnitine. Beta carotene can protect your skin from UV-ray damage and even your eyes from damage as well. Beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, and Vitamin A is essential for new cells to form, bone growth and even fertilization. Selenium is involved in a system that helps neutralize free radicals as well as thyroid hormone production, and even body temperature. Antioxidants contribute to so many important functions that it would be crazy not to consume these “superheroes!” Instead of eating one specific food for its antioxidant properties, eat a plethora of different fruits and vegetables to get a little bit of everything. We already know they are great for our health, but they can also help us lean out and shrink our waistlines. Vegetables contain very few calories, and contain fiber and many other nutrients! So ask yourself why you would NOT eat these amazing foods?
Make it a goal of yours to eat at least 1 vegetable or fruit with EVERY MEAL! You will naturally eat less junk food, and reap all of the benefits from these amazing superfoods!
Thompson, J.L, Manore M., Vaughan, L.A. The Science of Nutrition. Nutrients involved in Antioxidant Function. 2011 Pearson Education.