Antioxidants are substances which neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are produced in the cell as a by-product of oxygen combustion and other processes.
If there are too many free radicals in your organism, these unstable molecules can damage various parts of the cell and cause changes / mutations.
Antioxidants and free radicals
How are free radicals formed
Issues caused by free radicals
How to fight off free radicals
A list of antioxidants
First, here is a little background on oxidation and free radicals. Free radicals are not that bad, just like cholesterol is not. In fact, organism needs free radicals (in smaller, normal amounts).
Free radicals are used for attacking and destroying bacteria and viruses that would otherwise cause damage to organism. Also, with help of free radicals vital hormones are produced and several enzymes are activated – both very much needed for the life as we know it. Problem arise only when there is an excessive amount of free radicals in your body. Antioxidants are used to fight off free radicals and disabled them before they do harm.
Free radicals are generated constantly. Digestion and breathing causes the formation of free radicals. Functioning of immune system and intense physical exercise also generates free radicals. Their quantity is also increased under the influence of various factors, such as:
Human organism is able to neutralize free radicals (when the amount of these molecules does not exceed normal level) in two ways – by producing its own antioxidants (superoxide dismutase enzyme) and by making use of antioxidants that are provided to the organism with food.
If there are too many free radicals in your organism, cells might get damaged. In 1987, Annals of Internal Medicine published a list of issues/diseases caused by free radicals. These are the following:
Your organism can neutralize free radicals with the help of antioxidants. The most important antioxidants are the following:
Are antioxidants needed?
By eating diverse food and following a proper diet, organism is provided with sufficient amount of antioxidants. In some cases (for example when exposed to stress, radiation, air pollution, cigarette smoke / smoking, if you consume too much processed food…), organism needs more antioxidants.
You can provide your organism with antioxidants by consuming antioxidant rich foods or by consuming supplements that are rich in Vitamin A, C and E as well as beta-carotene and selenium. Omega 3 supplements are a good choice as well.
Broccoli, along with green tea, dark chocolate and red wine, is one of the most powerful and well known antioxidants.
A list of antioxidants
Vitamin A, C and E along with beta-carotene and selenium are the most powerful antioxidants. Sufficient amounts of vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and selenium are necessary for the proper functioning of cells. Otherwise, free radicals can cause abnormalities in cells and tissues, leading to complications / disease.
Below is the list of antioxidants and a short description of their function.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that later transforms into Vitamin A. Beta-carotene has the following positive attributes:
Beta-carotene can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and the damage caused by these unstable molecules.
Vitamin A can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and the damage caused by these unstable molecules.
Vitamin C can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and the damage caused by these unstable molecules.
Vitamin E can be found in the following foods:
antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and the damage caused by these unstable molecules.
Selenium can be found in the following foods:
Other effective antioxidants are also:
Glutathione Best sources of glutathione are avocado, watermelon, asparagus, red berries, peaches, potatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges and grapefruit, tomatoes, meat (for example veal steaks)
Indoles Best sources of indoles are broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radishes, cabbage, turnips.
Lycopene Best sources of lycopene are tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit.
Ubinikol-10 Best source of this coenzyme are mackerel, sardines, peanuts, walnuts, and soybeans.
Quercetin Best sources of quercetin are red and yellow onions, red grapes, squash and broccoli.
Flavonoids: found in citrus fruits, tea leaves, onions, apples, red wine, chocolate.
Anthocyanins: found in eggplant, grapes and berries.
Catechins: found in tea leaves, red wine, chocolate.
Sulfur compounds: found in garlic, onion, wild garlic.
Lutein and zeaxanthin: found in corn, lettuce, spinach.
Isoflavonoids: found in soy, beans, peas, chickpeas.
Polyphenols: found in thyme and oregano.
Coenzyme Q: found in tissues and membranes.
A modern pace of life is very fast. Nowadays, food contains up to 90% less vitamins and minerals than it did 20 years ago. This is mostly due to the use of pesticides and other chemicals in farming.
Consumption of processed foods, preservatives and flavor enhancers, along with smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and stress significantly increases the production of free radicals and may cause cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and obesity.
Avoid stress, consume less or no processed foods, quit smoking and eat food that is rich in vitamins and minerals to avoid possible complications caused by excessive amount of free radicals in your body. Neutralize free radical before these molecules cause harm.