What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are body purifying substances that neutralise the effects of free radicals in the body. They do this by simply blocking the oxidation process generated by the free radicals. They then dispose of all the rubbish our bodies store and by doing this they help to repair and prevent damage to the cells in our bodies.
For example:- to prevent an apple from browning, you would place it in orange juice which is rich in Vitamin C. This helps it to retain its white colour. Antioxidants act in exactly the same way within the body.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that have an odd number electrons. In order to survive, they attack stable molecules to obtain electrons. When this happens, a chain reaction occurs causing more free radical molecules to be formed.
Free radicals can enter our bodies in a variety of ways including in the air we breathe, the food we eat or via everyday pollutants. They are responsible for causing disaster within the body’s cellular structures including aging, tissue damage, and quite possibly some including heart disease and cancer.
Our bodies are usually able to deal with free radicals naturally, but unfortunately, if subjected to a regular onslaught of environmental pollutions, smoking, alcohol and UV radiation, our natural defences are unable to cope. This then leads to damage and destruction of the cells and in some cases our DNA.
What are the Sources of Natural Antioxidants?
So as you can tell, it is important for us not to rely solely on our bodies natural defences and that it is vital that we have a well balanced and healthy diet that are full of natural antioxidants.
Natural Antioxidants are Vitamins A, C and E all of which can be found in foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Some high antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables are Prunes, Pomegranates, Raisins, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Plums, Oranges, Red grapes, Cherries, Kale, Spinach, Brussels sprouts, Alfalfa sprouts, Broccoli flowers, Beets, Red bell peppers, Onions, Corn and Aubergine.
Antioxidants can also be found in many other foods and drinks such as:-
Up to two glasses of red wine a day provides a great source of antioxidants but any more will have the opposite effect and lessen your bodies ability to fight off infections.
Dark chocolate provides one of the richest sources of antioxidants called catechins. Although good for you, chocolate is also full of sugar so be aware of the quantities you consume!
Green and black teas are another excellent source of antioxidants. Both contain carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid as well as other essential vitamins including manganese, selenium, chromium and zinc.
There are many common questions that are asked about antioxidants, below we answer some of them.
Do Antioxidants Prevent Cancer?
There is considerable laboratory evidence from animal, chemical and cell culture studies that show that antioxidants may slow down and even prevent the development of cancer.
However in more recent clinical trials this information is less clear as random, widespread clinical trials noted inconsistent results.
Do antioxidants help strengthen the immune system?
Yes, eating foods rich in antioxidants will help to strengthen your immune system, helping you to ward off colds and flu viruses.
Instead of eating just one specific high antioxidant food try eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables to get a little bit of everything. Everybody knows that these foods are great for our health but they can also help us to stay trim! Vegetables contain very few calories, and contain vitamins, fibre and many other nutrients, so why wouldn’t you want to eat these amazing foods?
Can antioxidants help your skin?
Yes, natural antioxidants are commonly used in many skin care products to improve efficiency and toning results. Many have also been dermatologically tested and are considered safe and cause no side effects, in particular allergies or inflammation.
Years of research has shown that natural skin care products are as effective if not more so in providing results, without irritation or longer-term adverse effects.
Vitamin C, Blueberries, Grape seed Oil, Coffee and Green Tea have been found to be very effective natural antioxidants and have been found in both skincare and hair care products.
Can Antioxidants prevent ageing?
It has been proven over the years that antioxidants found in tea, coffee, wine, blueberries, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables can help in preventing the ageing process and extend your lifespan.
As you age, your cell division and the replacement of dead or damaged cells slows down.
Antioxidants help speed up the cell division and cell replacement processes. This then helps to slow the overall effects of ageing and also helps prevent specific age-related diseases.
Should I use antioxidant supplements?
Research has shown that antioxidant supplements tend not to be beneficial in preventing diseases and in some cases can actually have reverse effect and make you more susceptible to illness and disease.
Instead of popping a pill, boil the kettle and have a nice cup of green tea or snack on some fresh fruit or vegetables.
Updated: April 24, 2018 CET
September 22, 2023