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What Is An Antioxidant? The Big Question

Pile of berries.

The word “antioxidants” may mean something to you, but I bet you’d have a lot of difficulty explaining what they are to someone else. You’ve probably seen “rich in antioxidants” plastered on food packaging, but didn’t think twice. You went on with your day without taking a moment to even try to understand what they are or why they’re beneficial to you. An antioxidant is advertised on health supplements or substances of nutritional value. Natural care products, pet foods, and sports beverages also advertise antioxidants.

Let me help you understand this a little more clearly. Antioxidants are the superheroes that fight free radicals, aka the villains. Everyone has a free radical in their life. You know who I’m talking about, that “friend” that showed up from out of the blue that seems to want to take all of your time and energy… well, not anymore! Antioxidants swoop in, give them what they want- like a new job or boyfriend, so they stop sucking the literal and figurative life from you. “Free radicals” is basically a general term for highly reactive compounds. These compounds attach to normal cells and damage them. They are usually the reason for the development of cancer. Let’s learn more about antioxidants and why they are necessary for our well being.

What Are Antioxidants?

Pile of fruits and vegetables.

Lots of fruits and veggies have antioxidants!

Antioxidants are either man-made or naturally occurring compounds that help to prevent or delay certain types of cell damage. One of the most common causes of cell damage, in general, can be linked to free radicals entering your system. Chemical pollutants in the atmosphere are what cause oxygenated compounds. They are also a result of chemical ingredients in various products we use every day such as skin and hair products.

Once free radicals enter your system, they tend to bond with the cells in your body. Once sun exposure triggers free radicals, they cause a serious chain-reaction that damages our bodies, similar to the effects of cancer. They can weaken our immune system and speed up the signs of aging. This completely reverses any of the preventative measures we take to purposely slow down the aging process and maintain a healthy and youthful complexion. While avoiding free radicals may be quite a challenge, we can use antioxidants to help counter their effects and restore our bodies natural health and vitality. In short, antioxidants encapsulate (or trap) the free radicals before they can bond with the cells in our bodies. This allows our body to then flush them out and ultimately prevent any damage that they may have caused.

Where Are Antioxidants Found?

Two red peppers on red and white cloth.

Peppers are a great source of antioxidants!

Most products and brands will, of course, be eager to advertise their product as containing antioxidants. Antioxidants fight off free radicals and keep us healthy. However, there is a wide variety of different sources of antioxidants, each being better suited to a specific body type or ailment. The most recommended are fruits and vegetables as they are a lot safer and healthier for your body. There is a reason you were forced to eat your veggies when you were a kid! Some examples of natural fruit and vegetable sources of antioxidants are onions, blueberries, kale, cranberries, spinach, strawberries, brussels sprouts, red grapes, corn, plums, goji berries, red peppers and so much more!

However, this is really just the beginning, as there are a ton of other sources of antioxidants out there including herbs and spices. Just a handful include cloves, cocoa, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, basil, ginger, turmeric, and thyme. Coffee is also a surprisingly powerful antioxidant and is easy to include in your everyday diet as most people have a cup or two throughout the day anyway – just be sure to cut down on the sugar and sweeteners. With all of these natural ways to consume antioxidants, you’re sure to find the perfect way to add antioxidants into your diet.

Benefits Of Antioxidants Explained

Fruits.

Delicious, healthy and nutritious sources of antioxidants.

The benefits of antioxidants are very straightforward – you need them to rid your body of oxidants. As mentioned earlier, oxidants cause illness, disease and speed up the signs of aging. Antioxidants work much like antibiotics do on bacteria and should be treated in a similar manner. This means that you have to maintain a balance of antioxidants to oxidants in your body at all times, as having too much of either can lead to a variety of different side effects or negative reactions.

However, by maintaining a healthy balance of antioxidants in your diet, you’ll be able to rid your body of the excessive oxidants and toxins that you’re bound to encounter. You’ll ultimately maintain a healthier body overall, as well as keeping your skin healthy, nourished and revitalized whilst slowing the signs of aging. This allows you to have a youthful complexion without the risk of adding chemical-based products to your daily cleansing routine. There are multiple benefits to antioxidant intake, one includes cardiovascular health. Not all antioxidants are found to protect against heart disease but some like Vitamin C does. The nutrient can cut the risk of stroke by as much as 50 percent. Antioxidants also improve memory and reduce the risk of dementia.

What Happens If You Lack Antioxidants?

One of the major benefits of antioxidants is that it slows the process of aging. Therefore, if you’re without antioxidants you’re at a greater risk of getting age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cataracts, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also plays a huge role in cancer. Having antioxidants be a part of your daily diet will help lower your risk of getting these diseases.  Eating fruits and vegetables is a lot better than the alternative that’s for sure! In general, it’s better to prevent diseases than to have to learn how to manage them. Therefore, we are always told to live healthy lives. Antioxidants are also extremely important for your eyes and it has been shown that antioxidants reduce the risk of developing advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration. The best source of antioxidants is a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

We need to get a daily minimum of 8,000-11,000 antioxidant units a day. Not all fruits and vegetables are the same so you need to choose your fruits and vegetables wisely. When you are sick, stressed, or tired you’ll especially need to go above and beyond the required antioxidant food minimum. Ideally, we should be consuming high powered fruits and vegetables like berries, beans and green tea all day long!

Antioxidant Super Shake Recipe

Glass of green juice on plate with berries and chia seeds.

Try this delicious smoothie!

If you don’t already own a blender or a mixer of some sort, you should definitely go out a buy one for yourself. They are worth the money and only take up a little space on your counter. With a blender, it becomes extremely easy to add more antioxidants to your daily diet. Making yourself a shake in the morning before you run out the door will not only improve your general health but will also make you have a better day. Make a shake that’s filled with ingredients that are high in antioxidants! Fill your blender with kale, blueberries, strawberries, dates, goji berries, chia seeds, a dash of cinnamon, coconut water, and some unsweetened almond milk. With that antioxidant-packed drink, you’re sure to have a great day.

Some days, you may not have the time to put in all the ingredients listed above. If you’re looking for something with fewer ingredients, just add coconut milk, frozen blueberries, chia seeds, some fresh greens, and a splash of vanilla extract. This is perfect for someone who loves to add greens to their morning shakes. These shakes will help slow down and even prevent your body’s cells from oxidation. They can help keep your immune system, nerves, and skin in optimal condition.

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Conclusion

Ultimately, antioxidants are a very important part of everyday life. They help by maintaining a healthy, well-regulated body and a strong immune system. Antioxidants are often most potent when they’re in their natural form, which means that you can add them to your diet quite easily. Most of the foods, spices, or drinks that are rich in antioxidants are things that we already consume on a regular basis – like coffee, fruit, and the vegetables listed above.

As you get older and your body becomes weaker, antioxidants will become your best friend. As the number of chemical toxins that come into contact with us increases, so will the harm they cause us. Antioxidants are the solution and treatment. They are all-natural too, which is important to anyone who cares about their general health. In a world where air pollution is steadily growing and the amount of chemicals that we’re exposed to on a regular basis is much higher than in the past, having enough antioxidants in your diet is important for staying healthy and maintaining a youthful complexion which is important in a material world. Antioxidants aren’t just a trend that will pass, they are necessary for our body’s systems upkeep.

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