Antioxidants are essential to your health. However, few people really know this, and they don’t consume foods rich in this substance, and thus open the door to various health problems. This is a cheap and crucial way to prevent degenerative diseases and inflammations.
In this article, I will explain in a simple way what antioxidants are, the richest foods in this substance and how important they are to your health.
The Protective Role of the antioxidants
Antioxidants are very good substances for your health because they have the ability to voluntarily energize free radicals, helping them automatically become more stable and thus preventing them from damaging healthy cells of our body.
Without antioxidants, the free radicals can cause severe cell damage and can contribute to many diseases. Thus, we have at our fingertips a “defense system” against these harmful free radicals that we can easily find in fruits and vegetables and are naturally produced by the body. Antioxidants play an important role in protecting the body and help in preventing numerous diseases.
The most common antioxidants include vitamins E and C, minerals such as selenium, zinc, manganese and copper, and other substances such as carotenoids and flavonoids – all of which can be easily obtained through a varied and balanced diet of brightly colored vegetables and fruits. There are many other antioxidants, some of which are produced by the body itself, such as glutathione, alpha lipoic acid and coenzyme Q-10.
The relationship between free radicals and antioxidants
Free radicals (oxidizing agents) are molecules that, because they do not have an even number of electrons in the last electron layer, are highly unstable. They are always striving for stability by stopping chemical electron transfer (oxy-reduction) reactions with neighboring cells. Although fundamental to health, when in excess, free radicals start to oxidize healthy cells such as proteins, lipids and DNA.
The constant attack leads to lipid peroxidation (destruction of polyunsaturated fatty). The intensification in the lipid peroxidation process, in turn, is associated with the development of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and the development of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkison, and some types of cancer.
The importance of antioxidants lies in the fact that they are able to regulate the amount of free radicals in the body. A diet rich in antioxidant consumption contributes to the free radicals reduction.
Antioxidants help prevent collagen destruction by free radicals and stimulate the production of new fibers, thus having a remedial action beyond prevention. Thus, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin and, consequently, the emergence of new signs of aging. This substance also aids in the bleaching of blemishes caused by overproduction of melanin, leaving the skin more luminous, uniform and lush.
They contribute to the delay of premature aging and prevention of diseases such as Parkinson’s, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autism among others.
The Benefits of Antioxidant Rich Foods
Again, the Mediterranean diet has fallen into the graces of science. Researchers at New York University analyzed data from more than 500,000 people and concluded that the menu rich in olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables acts as a shield against the effects of pollution.
From a molecular point of view, all the laurels of this protection go to a famous class of substances: the antioxidants, present in the traditional diet of these countries.
However, the virtue, scientists say, is in the balance. In fact, even free radicals, the targets of antioxidants, have roles to play. Among other functions, they act for fat cells, adipocytes, to become muscles. Even nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and favors blood flow, that allows men to get an erection, is a type of free radical.
The healthiest way to eat antioxidants is to consume various vegetables and fruits daily.
The World Health Organization’s recommendation is to eat at least five servings (or 400 grams) per day because this plants are exposed to oxidizing factors such as pests and temperature fluctuations, they produce a number of protective substances.
To ensure antioxidants, the more colorful the vegetables and fruits, the better. Purplish hues denounce anthocyanins. Reddish and orange pulps, in turn, are sources of carotenoids. In addition, vegetables and fruits also deliver vitamins and minerals that help in the process.
Here is a list of the most antioxidant rich foods:
Cucumber: Source of mineral salts and vitamins A and C, it is also a natural diuretic and has anti-inflammatory power.
Sesame oil: rich in vitamin E, also has anti-inflammatory action.
Oats: Decreases cellulite, helps in better blood circulation and prevents the absorption of fat.
Flaxseed: Helps regulate hormones, as well as high in fiber and the anti-inflammatory omega 3.
Pumpkin Seed: fights inflammation, as it makes the pH of the blood more alkaline.
Turmeric: has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory action.
Whole Grape Juice: has anti-inflammatory function.
Pineapple and Papaya: have anti edema properties and proteolytic enzymes, which collaborate in protein digestion.
Olive Oil: Another natural anti-inflammatory, extra virgin olive oil has an acidity of less than 1%. It is important to emphasize the moderation in consumption, which should be at most 2 tablespoons per day.
Salvia: regulates estrogen, a hormone that is linked to cellulite, in addition to other female hormones.
Fatty Fish: Rich in omega 3. Examples: sardines, mackerels, salmon and tuna.
Citrus fruits: rich in vitamin C, orange and lemon help microcirculation because they are bioflavonoids.
Red fruits: help in the strengthening of blood and lymphatic vessels, improving their circulation.
Melon: Raises blood pH, is anti-inflammatory and its fibers can be more used if consumed with seeds.
In addition, with increasing age, the dependence of exogenous antioxidants increases and it is necessary to ensure a sufficient supply of these through diet. Older people should practice a healthier, antioxidant-rich diet.
However, because contemporary diets are rich in processed foods, poor in vegetables and fruit and little varied, antioxidant production is compromised and is one of the causes for the increased incidence of certain chronic diseases from an increasingly younger age.