What are antioxidants and how do they help keep your body healthy? Learn how to supplement your diet with much-needed antioxidants here.
You may already be aware of certain foods which help keep your heart and gut healthy. But do you know which types of foods protect your cells? We’re talking about foods which are high in antioxidants – a term you are probably familiar with.
Antioxidants are naturally present in plant-based foods and drinks. Fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, and even chocolate and red wine contain antioxidants. The number of different antioxidant compounds is in the thousands, but some you may have heard of include:
- Flavanol – from chocolate
- Resveratrol – from wine
- Lycopene – from tomatoes
Some antioxidants have much more familiar names – beta carotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E are all examples.
Why do we need antioxidants?
Antioxidants in our bodies help combat damage to cells from oxidants and oxidative stress.
Some of the key roles of these compounds in our bodies are to:
How do we get the antioxidants we need?
- Repair molecule damage: Certain kinds of antioxidant are able to donate a hydrogen atom to repair damage to cells. In the case of a DNA molecule, this is vitally important.
- Stop metal radical production: Toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury can cause free radicals to form and damage our cells. Some antioxidants have a chelating effect, which means they can bond with these metals and prevent any chemical reaction from occurring. They also get toxic metals to leave your body via your urine.
- Stimulate natural defenses: Other types of antioxidant increase your body’s natural defenses by stimulating your genes.
- Protect cells with a “shield”: Flavonoids and certain other antioxidants work to protect your DNA from free radicals by creating a kind of “shield” around the cell.
- Stem cancer cell growth: Antioxidants can also produce chemicals which fight cancer cells by halting their growth and even causing them to self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.
Your body produces antioxidant molecules naturally, but you can give your defense system a boost by consuming foods which are rich in antioxidants.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants. Blueberries are known for containing thousands of antioxidants, but other foods rich in these compounds include raspberries, strawberries, plums, oranges, kale, spinach, sprouts, beets, onions and corn.
Many people also choose to boost their natural diet with supplements which contain antioxidant vitamins and minerals. OTCDeal has a range of antioxidant supplements which can help keep your body’s defense system strong and operating as it should. You can view our full range here.
There are a few things to remember when taking dietary supplements containing antioxidants: