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Why are Antioxidants so Important?

The chances are good that you have heard a lot about antioxidants via advertisements through print, online, and TV media.

You are probably relentlessly bombarded with product advertisements for shampoo, processed foods, and grooming products infused with antioxidants without realizing it. 

Advertisers know that "antioxidants" is a byword for "health" that resonates with most consumers, especially those with no idea what antioxidants are.

And that is the problem - common misunderstandings about the health benefits of antioxidants. The most basic health misunderstandings occur because people don't know what antioxidants are nor which form of them are healthiest for them to take

Antioxidants are essential and healthy chemical compounds vital for human health. Antioxidants help the human body resist diseases and stave off the aesthetic and physical ravages of aging.

And the most health-beneficial way for you to get antioxidants into your system is through eating healthy foods regularly and exercising.

The misunderstanding about antioxidants in the public domain occurs when people believe that they beneficially can get them from any source.

Always get your antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, and healthy animal proteins. 

There is no proof that you can get appreciable antioxidant benefits from supplement pills unless you have an acute deficiency. And ingesting too many antioxidant supplement pills can increase your chances of developing cancer and birth defects in unborn children.

So, why are antioxidants so important?

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What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are health-beneficial chemical compounds found within the chemical body, whole natural foods like plants, fruits, vegetables, some animal proteins, and in the synthetic form found in supplements.

The most optimal antioxidants that you will find are in the human body, plant-based foods, and some specialized energy drinks.

Antioxidants inherently slow down and sometimes even prevent the interior bodily damage that is caused by free radicals. There is plenty that modern science has yet to learn about free radicals, but scientists theorized in 1956 that free radicals cause the aging process and gradual breakdown of the human body as we age.

Free radicals damage human cells and may cause several medical conditions and diseases. 

So, what are free radicals? Free radicals are believed to be extremely unstable and deformed oxygen molecules that multiple and seek out other molecules and human tissue to react against and damage. This process is called "oxidative stress." And it is this oxidative stress action by free radicals that damages humans cells and causes aging.

What causes the creation of free radicals? Exhaustive exercise, regular digestion, pollution exposure, cigarette smoke, and x-ray radiation exposure, among other things. 

There is no way to avoid triggering the creation of free radicals. 

The oxidative stress triggered by free radicals causes numerous medical conditions and diseases like:

  • Wrinkles
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer's 
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Inflammation
  • Vision loss

So, scientists believe that the more antioxidants that you have in your body to fight free radicals, the healthier you will be in the long run.

Antioxidants protect the cells in your body that free radicals could damage.

Having more antioxidants in your system will also prevent your body from developing an adverse imbalance with more free radicals in your system than antioxidants.

Which Foods Have a High Amount of Antioxidants?

There is no one-size-fits-all version of antioxidants. There could be hundreds or thousands of kinds of antioxidants found naturally in the human body, plant-based food forms, and animal proteins.

The human body generates its own antioxidants. Your body generates a natural antioxidant called glutathione. Any antioxidants produced in the human body are known as endogenous antioxidants.

And any antioxidants generated outside of the human body are known as exogenous antioxidants. So, every kind of food rich in antioxidants is an exogenous antioxidant.

There are too many kinds of antioxidants to list, so we list some of the major food groups you should be familiar with.

Flavonoids

 A cup of green tea.

Flavonoids are a kind of antioxidant that is found in food, herbs, plants, and especially dark-colored plants. Flavonoids were once called "Vitamin P."

There are six varieties of flavonoids called;

  • Flavan-3-ols
  • Flavanols
  • Flavanones
  • Flavones
  • Anthocyanins
  • Isoflavones

You will find health beneficial flavonoids in foods like:

  • Cocoa and processed chocolate foods
  • Green tea
  • White tea
  • Black tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Red and purple grapes
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Celery
  • Red pepper
  • The citrus family of fruits
  • Fava beans
  • Soybeans
  • Red wine

Beta-Carotene

You can find the antioxidant beta-carotene in starkly bright vegetables and fruits like:

  • Carrots
  • Mangoes
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Vitamin A

You can get antioxidants through vitamin A by eating foods like:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Liver

Lycopene

You can find the antioxidant lycopene in vegetables and fruit with red or pink-colored interior pulp like watermelons and tomatoes.

Selenium 

You will find the antioxidant selenium in foods like:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish

Vitamin E

You will find the antioxidant vitamin E in various foods like:

  • Vegetable and seed-based cooking oils
  • Green and leafy vegetables
  • Seeds and nuts

The Effect of Cooking on Antioxidants

 Carrots and broccoli cooing in a saucepan.

Depending on what you are cooking and your body's ability to digest it properly, excessive cooking may decrease the viability of the antioxidants you need.

Consider steaming or lightly cooking any antioxidant-rich vegetables you eat so as to maintain their viable levels of antioxidants.

All the Other Foods

There are too many kinds of foods to list that are high in antioxidants, like avocados, squash, sweet potatoes, Russert potatoes, cabbage, kale, and so much more.

Here is a full list of foods that are high in antioxidants.

Helpful Antioxidant Diet Tips

You should get into the habit of adopting an antioxidant-rich food diet in your life. 

Start drinking a cup of white or green matcha tea daily.

Plants and foods with bright, medium or deeply dark colors are usually rich in antioxidants. The lighter the fruit or vegetable color, the lower the number of antioxidants present.

Instead of sweets, snack on seeds, nuts, and dried fruits, but make sure they have no added salt or sugar.

What Happens if You Don't Have Enough Antioxidants? 

As we previously mentioned, having sufficient antioxidants in your body protects against the cellular and membrane damage caused by the oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.

Free radicals cause aging, wrinkles, heart disease, diabetes, and many other medical issues. Some medical experts even believe that rampant free radical activities can damage cellular DNA.

Even intense exercise activity generates the creation of free radicals.

You may want to get a medical check-up to see if your body has an antioxidant deficiency. 

We all must deal with the destructive power of free radicals in our bodies.

Eat a balanced diet, and make sure you eat colorful fruits and veggies to maintain your antioxidant intake. 

What About Antioxidants and Wine? 

Lucky for you, red wine is an excellent source of antioxidants, so drink up!

Unfortunately, you still need to drink in moderation. 

Excessive alcohol consumption causes liver damage, heart disease, pancreatic diseases, and alcoholism.

Try to only drink two glasses of red wine per day.

Conclusion 

You hear about antioxidants all of the time. 

And now you know why they are so essential for human health. Eat healthier because either the antioxidants or the free radicals will win in your body over time.

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Related: BIOHACKING AGING: ANTIOXIDANTS, CAFFEINE, AND OXIDATIVE STRESS

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