Fortify yourself against diseases by including natural antioxidants in your food.
Every cell in your body uses oxygen to make energy. When cells in your body use oxygen to make energy, free radicals are produced, just as exhaust gases are formed during the ignition of the fuel when you drive your car. Our bodies have evolved to control and utilize the free radicals. But when large number of free radicals are produced, our bodies can no longer cope up with it and oxidative stress results. Chronic oxidative stress leads to molecular damage and tissue injury.
Chain Oxidation Reaction
Emission from motor vehicles and cigarette smoke enter our bodies through breathing contain free radicals and are some of the pollutants and create free radicals in our bodies. The immune system in our bodies create or utilize free radicals in the body to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Free radicals are unstable because they’re missing an electron and they try to become stable by attaching to cell membranes in the body, snatching away electrons from them. This, in turn, creates free radical molecule on a electron-snatching spree, and starts a chain reaction that eventually leads to the cell’s death.
And the death of these cells accelerates your aging process. Sometimes the cell’s DNA can get damaged, paving way for cancer.
Antioxidants are nutrients in our foods that can prevent, or slow, the oxidative damage to our body. Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body by mopping away the free radicals. They neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-”stealing” reaction. This helps to prevent cell and tissue damage. The structure of antioxidant is such that donating an electron doesn’t turn them into a free radical.
The vitamins C and E protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals. Vitamin E is one of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available. It can protect against cardiovascular disease by preventing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) from hardening (oxidizing) and forming artery-clogging plaque. Vitamin C can combat free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. It also helps return vitamin E to its active form.
Which foods are rich in antioxidants?
Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains and some meats, poultry and fish. The list below describes food sources of common antioxidants.
- Let your dinner include all the colors in the rainbow and more: purple (egg plants, plums), orange (sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, carrots, pumpkin), yellow (mangoes, sweet corn), red (tomatoes, red pepper, beets, apples, pomegranates, cherries), black mushrooms, white pumpkins and green leafy vegetables including spinach. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, grapefruit and oranges.
- Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese.
- Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, can be found in many fruits and vegetables and also in cereals, beef, poultry and fish.
- Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is found in almonds and other nuts, mangoes and broccoli, and in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils.