Sunday, 1 November 2015

What are antioxidants?


Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Studies have shown that antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer and heart disease.

Antioxidants can be found in most fruits and vegetables but some culinary and medicinal herbs also contain high levels of antioxidants.


So what is a free radical? It’s important you know this, as it is free radicals that cause most of the diseases today, like cancer, cardiac diseases and so on.
Free radicals are formed as part of our natural metabolism but also by environmental factors, including smoking, pesticides, pollution and radiation. These are unstable molecules that change the stability, or simply put, the health of our cells. They damage our cells and eventually kill them. Most diseases and ageing are caused by the slow damage or death of our body cells.

We all know that oxygen is essential to life, but as your body uses oxygen in normal metabolism, by-products called free radicals are created. When these free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to remove them, Oxidative Stress can occur, causing cell and tissue damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers,” helping the body remove these damaging molecules and prevent and repair damage.

Antioxidants have the property to neutralize free radicals. However, when the antioxidant neutralizes a free radical it becomes inactive. Therefore we need to continuously supply our body with antioxidants. The action of free radicals could increase the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart problems and could accelerate ageing. Antioxidants have the property to neutralize the free radicals and prevent damage.


Antioxidants are present in many of our commonly available foods. Foods rich in vitamin C and E are especially loaded with antioxidants.

1. Lutein:
Dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach, as well
as fruits such as the kiwi.

2. Lycopene:
Tomato and tomato products, pink grapefruit, and watermelon.

3. Selenium:
Fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, and garlic.

4. Vitamin A and Carotenoids:
Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches,
and apricots.

5. Vitamin C: Dubbed the "grandfather" of the traditional antioxidants,
Citrus fruits such as oranges and limes, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries,
and tomatoes.

6. Vitamin E:
Nuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, and liver

7. Resveratrol
Found in certain fruits like grapes, vegetables, cocoa, and red wine, this antioxidant can cross the blood-brain barrier, providing protection for your brain and nervous system


  1. Protect the heart
  2. Reduce the risk of diseases, including cancer
  3. Slow down ageing
  4. Reduce inflammation (prevent or ease arthritis)
  5. Burn body fat
  6. Regulate metabolism
  7. Lower cholesterol and high blood pressure
  8. Keep the skin healthy and glowing
An antioxidant-rich diet will not work to your advantage if you do not combine it with a healthy lifestyle. Remember, there are unhealthy lifestyle habits that can promote free radical formation. Fail to put a stop to these and the levels of free radicals in your body can rise to dangerous levels, putting you at risk of inflammation and paving the way for disease and illness.

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