Everything You Need to Know About Antioxidants
By now you have probably picked up a thing or two about which foods are good for your heart, waist, or gut. But, what about eating for your cells? We're talking about foods with a hefty dose of antioxidants.
Between organic fruit and vegetables and a variety of packaged foods claiming to carry all sorts of nutrients, nutrition is going through a renaissance of sorts these days. And antioxidants are sitting front row during this metamorphosis.
But, what's the deal with these healthy compounds? Are they really worth our attention? And if so, why? Read on as we unlock the secrets hiding behind this nutritional buzzword.
Antioxidants: The Need-to-Know
Now, time for some biochemistry. Antioxidants are substances which slow down or even prevent oxidative damage throughout the human body. What does this mean? Since our cells use oxygen to function, they also end up producing malicious by-products, known as free radicals(1). When found in large quantities, these compounds can cause severe cellular damage to our DNA, protein, etc.
Think of antioxidants as free radical "bounty hunters." Not only do they prevent the damage done by free radicals, but antioxidants also come to the cells' rescue by repairing them. According to experts, free radicals and oxidative damage are linked to multiple health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases(2), diabetes(3), muscle wasting(4) and much more.
To make a long story short, our bodies are in desperate need of antioxidants in order to keep functioning. Between juicy fruit and delicious vegetables, certain foods are the ideal way of supplying our bodies with enough antioxidants to fortify our health.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
So, all we have to do is load our body (and plates) with antioxidants and let them take down free radicals one by one, right? Well, unfortunately, it's not that simple. Stuffing your body with as many antioxidants as possible is not the absolute cure-all.
On the flip side, you may be doing more harm than good. Why? As you crowd your system with antioxidants, you may accidentally suppress your body's unique ability to activate its own defense mechanisms. Such counteraction often occurs when you resort to supplements, since it's rather difficult to receive excessive amounts of antioxidants just from your diet.
An excellent example of the adverse effects of antioxidant over-consumption is illustrated in one now-famous study,(5) which took a turn for the worse and had to stop early to prevent risking the lives of the participants. During this study, people who smoked were asked to consume beta-carotene supplements while scientists kept an eye out for the lung cancer markers.
As the study progressed, these markers indicated a modest increase in lung cancer incidence, and scientists had to end the whole thing abruptly. The bottom line is that loading too many antioxidants into your body doesn't necessarily benefit your health.
Types of Antioxidant Compounds
Although there are many antioxidant compounds out there, you are probably familiar with only a handful of them: flavonoids (present in berries, tea, and coffee), catechins, lycopene (found in tomatoes), and vitamins (especially A, C, and E).
However, these examples are only part of the long antioxidant list. Here are a few more compounds you should look for on food labels if you are thinking of taking up a diet rich in antioxidants:
- Ellagic Acid
- Cinnamin Acid
5 Unexpected (Yet Super Tasty) Sources of Antioxidants
We know it, you know it, everyone knows it! Blueberries are often the ones to steal the spotlight when it comes to eating antioxidants for optimal health. However, nature provides us with so many different options that makes blueberries feel like yesterday's news.
Here are five delicious sources of antioxidants, which are within arm's reach every time you hit the supermarket.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This proverb couldn't be more true considering the multiple benefits that come with the regular consumption of apples. Jam-packed with phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, phenolics, and other antioxidants, apples reduce the chance of developing cancer, asthma, diabetes, as well as cardiovascular diseases - according to one study(6).
If you are ready to take a turn for the better in your life, freeze dried apples by Mother Earth Products is a great place to start. Wanna add them to your cart? Click here.
2. Red Wine
Munchies aside, it's always good to know that certain drinks can also help you protect yourself against oxidative stress. That is the case with red wine. Research(7) proves that red wine is rich in anthocyanins and phenolic compounds and not only can shield you against free radicals, but it also adds to your meal's flavor.
Being one of the most popular foods these days, potatoes can do a lot more than challenge our palate. One recent study(8) claims that this vegetable is packed with an awful lot of antioxidants, such as phenolic acids, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. However, consuming refined potato starch may have the exact opposite effects. So, if you want to make sure you reach the daily antioxidant quota, opt for products without refined potato starch.
Tired of looking around in search of high-quality products? Freeze dried potatoes by Mother Earth Products are the perfect solution. If you want in on the action, click here.
Lycopene, which is commonly found in tomatoes, is known for its potent antioxidant properties. One study(9) even supports the definite link between cancer and cardiovascular diseases and lycopene. If you want to enliven your meals, while loading your body with antioxidants, dehydrated tomato flakes by Mother Earth Products are here to save the day. Click here to get yours today.
Whether we consume it in the form of juice at breakfast or as part of a delicious midday snack, oranges can bolster our immunity and for good reasons. They are packed with vitamin C and polyphenolic compounds; oranges(10) are on the fast track to eliminating any signs of free radicals wandering around in the human body.
While free radicals will do anything in their power to bring our health down, antioxidants are our way of saying “no” to their degenerative course of action. However, it doesn't mean that foods with antioxidant properties are here to fix the problem, especially when consumed in large quantities. At the end of the day, it all boils down to a balanced diet.