Why You Need More Antioxidants (and Where to Get Them)

Hey Angels and Alphas,

What do we all know about antioxidants besides what we’ve heard on the web? Everyone nowadays portrays antioxidants as a way to shield your body from disease, improve your sight, and even slow aging. 

Many large-scale studies have been done that prove the benefits of certain diets rich in specific antioxidants. However, most of the smaller controlled trials that have been testing the effectiveness of certain antioxidants but have mostly failed to back up these results. 

Recent study findings point to the lack of benefits when it comes to consuming antioxidants in pill form, but these reports also point to the fact that people whose diet is rich in certain antioxidants have stronger immune systems, lower risk of disease and lower overall mortality rate.

So what are antioxidants? How do they work, and how do they grant your body all these health benefits?

When scientists realized that free radical damage played a role in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis in the 1990s, antioxidants gained widespread attention. It was also connected to a number of other chronic illnesses, including cancer and visual loss. 

According to several research, persons who consume fewer antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are more likely to acquire certain chronic illnesses than people who consume a lot of these foods. 

Clinical research started examining the effectiveness of individual nutrients taken as supplements, particularly beta-carotene and vitamin E, in the fight against chronic illnesses.

Technically, a lot of foods and nutrients can be antioxidants. It’s a term that defines compounds which have the ability to counteract harmful free radicals. Hence the term describes a chemical property rather than a nutritional one.

Free radicals are a natural byproduct of smoking, ultraviolet rays, air pollution, as well as just your body’s natural energy metabolism. They have a reputation for causing cell damage and they essentially “steal” electrons from nearby molecules. 

They can sometimes be helpful as well! Your immune system produces them to ward off viruses and bacteria.

Essentially, antioxidants are the nutrients that can neutralize them by giving them some of their own electrons. This way, they essentially save your more important cells and proteins from harm! 

Where should we get antioxidants?

Because antioxidants frequently function best in combination with other nutrients, plant compounds, and even other antioxidants, this may be one explanation for why many studies on antioxidant supplements fail to demonstrate a health effect.

As an illustration, a cup of fresh strawberries has roughly 80 mg of vitamin C, which is a nutrient with significant antioxidant activity. 

The plant compounds (polyphenols) naturally present in strawberries, such as proanthocyanins and flavonoids, which also exhibit antioxidant activity and may collaborate with vitamin C to combat disease, are not present in a supplement containing 500 mg of vitamin C (667 percent of the RDA). In addition to their capacity as antioxidants, polyphenols possess a wide range of additional chemical characteristics.

Increased consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes is linked to a lower risk of chronic oxidative stress-related illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality, according to epidemiological prospective studies. 

It is thought that a plant-based diet can guard against chronic illnesses brought on by oxidative stress. It is unclear if the antioxidants, other ingredients in the foods, or a mix of both are responsible for this beneficial impact. 

The following nutrients have antioxidant activity, along with the meals that contain them:

Vitamin C: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beet, collards), honeydew, kale, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomatoes, and bell peppers (all colors)

Vitamin E: Almonds, avocado, Swiss chard, leafy greens (beet, mustard, turnip), peanuts, red peppers, spinach (boiled), and sunflower seeds

Selenium: Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, beef, poultry, barley, brown rice.

Zinc: Beef, poultry, oysters, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, cashews, fortified cereals

Phenolic compounds: Quercetin (apples, red wine, onions), catechins (tea, cocoa, berries), resveratrol (red and white wine, grapes, peanuts, berries), coumaric acid (spices, berries), anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries)

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