Free radicals are naturally formed molecules in your body that can cause heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants work to defend your body against free radical accumulation. Free radical accumulation can cause oxidative stress, which can damage your DNA and cell structure, causing diseases. Antioxidants help your body fight off oxidative stress caused by free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of disease.
Antioxidants are integral components in fighting the damage caused by free radicals. Free radical build-up in your body could cause premature ageing further to other diseases as mentioned; heart disease and cancer.
With all the benefits of antioxidants, you may be wondering where to source them. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E and carotenoids are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. A diet rich in antioxidants should contain all four components including, seeds, herbs and spices. A plant-based diet is most effective when sourcing antioxidants. We will look at the specific sources of antioxidants as we list out 14 high antioxidant sources, which you can acquire through your diet.
Considered essential for survival, it is integral to your health that you understand the importance of antioxidants and find comfortable sources in order to get a wholesome amount of antioxidants from your diet.
What Are Antioxidants
Antioxidants refer to molecules that are found in food, that protect your cells from oxidation. Oxidation, the more serious phenomenon of oxidative stress can have a damaging effect on your cells including your DNA and various proteins in your body,
Damaged DNA can lead to various concerns for they prevent your cells from functioning normally, thereby causing your cells to malfunction or even die. As mentioned prior, oxidative stress is caused by the build-up of free radicals in your body.
Antioxidants work to neutralise the effects of free radicals, thereby ensuring that your health is preserved. Though there are antioxidant supplements in the market, it is not always easy to find a reliable source of supplements, hence a diet rich in antioxidants is recommended to maintaining optimum health.
High doses of antioxidants as found in supplementation can have a damaging effect on your body. A study conducted on 100,000 people using antioxidant supplements found no reduced risk of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Further to this, supplementing high doses of antioxidants such as beta-carotene may actually increase the chances of developing lung cancer in smokers. Hence we do not recommend that you supplement your diet in search of a miracle cure through antioxidants. Instead opt for a natural diet, which is high in antioxidants, to reap all the benefits of low concentrations of the various types of antioxidants.
There are various types of antioxidants that you find in varying concentrations in your food. Here are a few types of antioxidants to get a better idea of the variety involved. Vitamin C and E are antioxidants that are considered great for your hair and skin. Selenium, another antioxidant helps fight cancer and boosts your immune system. Carotenoids are an integral component in maintaining optimum eye health. Carotenoids come in various forms, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Antioxidants can be subdivided into three categories based on the functions they perform. Primary antioxidants help eliminate free radicals in your body as mentioned above. Secondary antioxidants are known as preventive antioxidants, which stunts chain initiation, the first step in the free radical reaction mechanism. Secondary antioxidants thus work to prevent the formation of free radicals in your body. Tertiary antioxidants work to repair the damage caused, by restoring the health of biomolecules and cells in your body.
Antioxidant deficiency is also known as increased oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants can further be categorised into two main types, small molecule antioxidants and large molecule antioxidants. Small molecule antioxidants work to neutralise antioxidant deficiency or ROS, enabling the proper expelling of free radicals from your body. Small molecule antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and glutathione.
Large molecule antioxidants help absorb free radicals, thereby preventing them from attacking other essential cells and proteins in your body. These include enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione perioxidases.
Ferric reducing ability of plasma, also known as FRAP is a great test in understanding the content value of antioxidants in food. The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants a food contains. We will look at the various sources of antioxidants further down this article.
How do Antioxidants Work
The science behind how antioxidants work is rather simple. Antioxidants work to generously give up electrons to free radicals, without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves.
Thus, antioxidants work to repair the damage caused at the cell level by the works of free radicals. They also work to completely break down free radical molecules in your body thus rendering them harmless. Further to this, antioxidants work to stop the chain reaction which leads to the formation of free radicals, which works to help boost your immune system.
They also work in restoring the cell damage caused by free radicals.
What are Antioxidants Good For
Antioxidants are important factors in ensuring overall health and wellbeing. Further to preventing various chronic conditions, antioxidants help to maintain healthy cell development in your body.
A study conducted using polyphenol-rich blueberry gel incorporated into the diet of patients with oral cancer found that the antioxidants in blueberry help prevent the recurrence of cancer. Another study conducted on HIV-positive patients illustrated the effects of selenium sourced from a diet rich in selenium to delay the progression of the disease.
A diet rich in antioxidants could help you restore your health and prevent the development of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Further to protecting your eyes from macular degeneration, antioxidants are important components in maintaining healthy skin and hair. Further to this, it may help you catch better sleep.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants
As repeatedly mentioned in this article, antioxidants help protect your cell from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.
There are various things that cause oxidative stress in your body. As per Medical News Today, activities and process that cause oxidative stress includes,
- mitochondrial activity
- excessive exercise
- tissue trauma, due to inflammation and injury
- ischemia and reperfusion damage
- consumption of certain foods, especially refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and certain dyes and additives
- environmental pollution
- exposure to chemicals, such as pesticides and drugs, including chemotherapy
- industrial solvents
Medical News Today, How can antioxidants benefit our health?
All of the above factors lead to oxidative stress.
When it comes to the health benefits of antioxidants, there are some particular benefits from ensuring that your diet has a wholesome amount of antioxidants in it. There are a few specific health benefits of antioxidants, which should be cited and explored for further clarity. These are listed below.
Helps Your Heart
Antioxidants found in a natural diet rich in fruits and vegetables have been linked to a lower risk of developing heart disease. Early research has identified that the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables were what prevent this chronic disease.
However, negative results were illustrated when studies were conducted using antioxidant supplements. Scientists believe that the lack of correlation between antioxidant supplements and reduced risk of heart disease is due to the high concentration of antioxidants found in supplements.
Hence in order to reap all the benefits of antioxidants to the health of your heart, the best way to attain these antioxidants is through a diet rich in antioxidants; Green tea is a great source of antioxidants, which enables natural consumption of antioxidants in order to attain the illustrated benefits.
Helps Protects Your Eyes
Age-related macular degeneration is of the most common causes of vision loss in people above the age of 60. Premature macular degeneration has been identified to cause vision loss in younger people. The macula, which is an important tissue in the eye starts to wear down, which results in vision loss.
Antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration and if you already suffer from the loss of vision, antioxidants can help you retain the vision that you have.
When it comes to developing cataracts, vitamin C and vitamin E have been linked to lowering the chances of developing them. Cataracts can be difficult for people and can eventually lead to vision loss. Antioxidants work to slow down the progression of cataracts, thereby enabling you to protect your vision longer.
Damage caused by free radicals in your body could lead to developing cancer. Though there has not been a significant amount of research within the area, some studies do go to iterate that antioxidants help prevent cancer by neutralising the effects of free radicals in your body.
A diet rich in antioxidants can keep cancer at bay, protecting you internally from the crippling effects of the disease. This is probably one of the more valued health benefits of antioxidants in your diet.
Prevents Memory Loss
Antioxidants are important to regulate the proper functioning of the brain. With age comes the trouble of remembering things, and memory loss is a common side effect of ageing. Antioxidants work to help prevent memory loss, by boosting brain performance and vitality.
Antioxidants work to maintain the optimum health of your brain, which enables you to cure yourself of the effects of memory loss. Studies have illustrated better memory in those who had a diet rich in antioxidants.
Sources of Antioxidants
Considering the various health benefits of antioxidants, it is important to know of reliable sources of antioxidants so as to include them in your diet and lifestyle. Here is a list of 14 high antioxidant concentration sources.
Considered a superfood, spinach has a high nutrient density and is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Providing 0.9 mmol of antioxidants per 100-gram serving, spinach is a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are great in protecting your eyes by fighting the damage caused by free radicals built up over time.
Spinach has various health benefits and you can learn about the various health benefits of this superfood in our article, ‘Is Spinach a Superfood?‘
Beetroots are a great source of antioxidants. They also contain wholesome amounts of fibre, folate and potassium.
A 100 gram serving of beetroots can provide your body with up to 1.7 mmol of antioxidants. They are rich in the antioxidant betalain, which has been linked to various health benefits. For instance, studies have proven betalain to have links with lowered risks of developing colon cancer.
It also works well to suppress inflammation which can cause osteoarthritis.
This affordable legume is considered really healthy for your body due to its high fibre content. They are also a valuable source of antioxidants, offering 2 mmol of antioxidants in a serving of 100-grams.
Beans contain kaempferol, which is an antioxidant that has been linked to suppressed cancer growth. This makes beans one of the more popular choices of legumes, which makes it an ideal component to include in your diet.
4) Red Cabbage
Also known as purple cabbage, this vegetable contains a wholesome amount of vitamins C, K and A. Further to this, they have a high antioxidant content with about 2.2 mmol of antioxidants in every 100-gram serving.
Red cabbage in particular has more antioxidants in comparison to regular cabbage, which is what makes it a reliable source of antioxidants. Also found in strawberries, red cabbage contains the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been identified to protect the heart. It also contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that is great for the immune system and skin.
Boiling or stir-frying red cabbage increases the antioxidant value in red cabbage, while steaming reduces the content of antioxidants in this vegetable.
Considered one of the most nutritious greens, Kale is rich in vitamins A, K and C. It also has a great antioxidant profile with up to 2.7 mmol of antioxidants in a 100-gram serving.
Red varieties of kale have even more antioxidants, close to 4.1 mmol of antioxidants in a 100-gram serving.
Kale is a reliable antioxidant source, and whether you choose to eat regular kale or red varieties of kale, you will find a wholesome amount of antioxidants in them.
Raspberries are yummy to eat and contain a rich amount of antioxidants. Each 100-gram serving of raspberries contains almost 4 mmol of antioxidants.
The antioxidants found in raspberries help prevent cancer and can protect you against heart disease. They simply work to kill cancer cells in your body, thereby keeping you happy and healthy.
Raspberries also contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which works well in preventing oxidative stress. Studies have illustrated a significantly reduced risk of heart disease.
7) Goji Berries
Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Considered a superfood, goji berries are rich in antioxidants with about 4.3 mmol of antioxidants in every 100-gram serving.
They contain a unique antioxidant known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, which has been linked to a lowered tendency of heart disease and cancer.
Though expensive to eat on a regular basis, goji berries can be a rich source of anti-oxidants if incorporated into your diet.
Used in ancient times as a remedy against liver conditions, artichokes are a delicious vegetable with a great nutrient profile. As a great source of fibre, artichokes have an impressive antioxidant content of about 4.7 mmol of antioxidants in every 100-gram serving.
Rich in the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, artichokes help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Though frying artichokes can reduce the antioxidant content, boiling or steaming the vegetable can drastically increase the antioxidant concentration.
Strawberries are delicious and a valuable source of vitamin C and antioxidants. With 5.4 mmol of antioxidants in a 100-gram serving, research suggests that strawberries help reduce bad cholesterol in your body by increasing the amount of good cholesterol. Obvious to state, this significantly reduces your chances of developing a heart condition.
The protective properties of strawberries are linked to the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is what gives strawberries their rich colour.
Blueberries are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. With almost 9.2 mmol of antioxidants in a 100-gram serving, this superfood is a super source of antioxidants.
Considered the fruit with the highest amount of antioxidants, blueberries help lower the decline of brain function; it is great for your memory.
They work to boost brain function at the genetic level, thereby bringing with it vitality. They also contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant which has been identified to reduce heart disease.
This nut is a reliable source of antioxidants with 10.6 mmol of antioxidants per 100-gram serving.
The high antioxidant content of pecans has tremendous value in preventing the risk of cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that people who consumed pecans had a significant increase in the concentration of antioxidants in their blood.
Though high in calories, these nuts can be a valuable source of antioxidants, considering how the amount of antioxidants you get from a 100-gram serving.
Cocoa, dark chocolate, in particular, has some great health benefits. In comparison to regular chocolate, dark chocolate has a greater concentration of cocoa, which makes it so useful for the body.
Cocoa is one of the most reliable sources of antioxidants, with a whopping 15 mmol of antioxidants in a 100-gram serving. The concentration of antioxidants in cocoa is greater than in blueberries and raspberries.
The antioxidants in cocoa have been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. Cocoa reduces your blood pressure thereby protecting you from the risks of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks. The antioxidants in cocoa also work to reduce bad cholesterol, which is another factor in developing heart disease.
Grapes are another reliable source of antioxidants, with a range of 1.73 to 10.12 mmol of antioxidants per 100-gram serving.
Grapes contain phytochemicals, which are antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart disease. Containing selenium and vitamin C, grapes also contain the antioxidants anthocyanin and proanthocyanidins, which helps boost your immune system.
This popular fruit is a reliable source of antioxidants and should be included in the diet to reap the benefits of them.
14) Green Tea
Green tea is a steady and reliable source of antioxidants. Due to the fact that you drink green tea 3 to 6 times every day, you end up getting a higher dose of antioxidants throughout the day. Each gram of green tea has about 0.5 mmol of antioxidants. With a two gram serving per cup, you will get close to 1 mmol of antioxidants every time you drink green tea.
When you drink green tea throughout the day, your body gets a healthy and steady dose of antioxidants, which brings with it loads of health benefits. The antioxidants in green tea have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
The trouble with store-bought green tea is, they don’t contain the same levels of catechins (antioxidants) as authentic green tea. Considering how popular green tea is as a source of antioxidants, we thought it would help to provide you with a reliable and authentic source of green tea. This authentic Japanese green tea is organically sourced extracts, containing ceremonial values of catechins (antioxidants). Click the image below to be directed to the sales page.
Why Do I Need Antioxidants?
If you are looking to better safeguard your health, then you know that you need antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants are very important in keeping chronic diseases at bay and play a crucial role in ensuring good health and wellbeing.
With studies showing a lack of evidence to support the health benefits of antioxidant supplements, the only way to ensure that you get a good amount of antioxidants is through a good diet. Hence take into consideration everything mentioned within this article and adopt the sources as listed to gain all the benefits of antioxidants from your diet.
Be it through nuts, fruits, vegetables or green tea, or a combination of all four, make sure you get a wholesome amount of antioxidants. Adding green tea to your lifestyle would significantly ensure you get the amount of antioxidants that your body needs. It makes it easier to source your antioxidant requirements. Drink green tea 3 to 6 times every day.
When you consider antioxidants, it is important that you fight free radicals in your body, which could bring about toxic results if not combated correctly. Hence we hope reading this word to word has enriched your life, that you have found the answer to the questions you had in mind.