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Antioxidants – All You Need to Know

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What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are chemicals substances that can halt oxidation in body cells.

Oxidation causes chemical damages to body cells’ components, and for that reason your body has defend antioxidant systems.

Benefits of antioxidants

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, such as metal ions by wrapping around them and preventing body cell oxidation

  • Promote liver protection
  • Better eye health
  • Improved immune system function
  • Anticarcinogenic effects – DNA and cancer prevention
  • Improves cardiovascular health and prevents artherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes
  • Antioxidants can lower cholesterol levels blood pressure

How antioxidants work?

Antioxidants work in combination with other antioxidants.

There is a connection between oxidative damages and the occurrence of some diseases. For example the LDL oxidation by free radicals results in inflammation, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.

If you increase the consumption of foods high in antioxidants, you will be able to reduce the potential damages from free radicals.

Sources of natural antioxidants

The best sources of natural antioxidants are the plants. We are taking antioxidants in many different forms:

Antioxidant food additives – ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, acetic acid (found in vinegar) and pectin are used in food industry for the prevention of food deterioration.

Food antioxidant supplements – for their production is used one particular antioxidant or a combination of antioxidants; they are used as dietary supplements by many people in their regular diet meal plans.

Green tea contains one of the most powerful antioxidants, which is commonly used for the production of antioxidant supplements for weight loss and anti aging products.

Nutritional antioxidants

Antioxidant vitamins

  • Vitamin A (synthesized from beta-carotenes) – carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, peaches and apricots
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – citrus fruits, green peppers and leafy vegetables, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, cabbage, tomatoes
  • Vitamin E – whole grains, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil

Antioxidant vitamin cofactors and minerals

  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Selenium (reduces the risk of male prostate cancer; should be taken in controlled amounts – large doses can be toxic) – grains, eggs, sunflower seeds, fish, shellfish, red meat, chicken, turkey
  • Zinc – protects red blood cells from oxidation
  • Manganese – has antioxidant properties as part of the SOD enzyme

Carotenoid terpenoids – alpha-carotene and beta-carotene

Non-carotenoid terpenoids – Eugenol (has highest ORAC*) – clove oil, basil and cinnamon

Flavonoid polyphenolics (bioflavonoids)

  • Green tea – one of the best antioxidant sources; green tea polyphenols are one of the most potent antioxidants
  • Bioflavonoids are also found in pomegranate, blueberries, blackberries, other types of tea and some coffee types

Best antioxidant foods

In the list of beverages and foods highest in antioxidants White tea takes 3rd place, Green tea takes 5th place and Black tea takes 8th place.

Here’s the full list of the top 20 best antioxidant foods:

  1. Small red beans
  2. Wild blueberries
  3. Red Kidney beans
  4. Pinto beans
  5. Cultivated Blueberries
  6. Cranberries
  7. Artichokes
  8. Blackberries
  9. Prunes
  10. Raspberries
  11. Strawberries
  12. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples
  13. Pecans
  14. Sweet cherries
  15. Black plums
  16. Russet potatoes
  17. Black beans
  18. Plums
  19. Gala apples
  20. Walnuts

The consumption of antioxidant-rich foods lowers the risk of certain diseases caused by cellular oxidative damages.

The US FDA have recently suggested that the average person should consume up to 7000 ORAC* units daily to reduce the risk of cancer. This is nearly 12 servings of high-ORAC*-value fruits.

* ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) – is a method of measuring antioxidant contents in foods

Fruits ORAC units vary between 500 and 900 per 100 grams. That means you should consume between 0.8 kg and 1.4 kg of fruits, depending on the type of fruits, to reach the 7000 ORAC units daily.

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