The concept of “antioxidants” is known to every person who is at least a little interested in their own health. In the advertising of food additives, cosmetics and food products, this word is used as an indisputable advantage of the products offered. It is important to understand what these substances are and what their benefits are.
What are free radicals?
A scientifically proven fact: in order to improve health, you need to fight free radicals. After all, almost all diseases are a consequence of the body’s reaction to oxidation, that is, to the effects of these very radicals.
To begin with, let’s figure out what free radicals are.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that lack one or more electrons, as a result of which they tend to take the missing electrons from the cells of the human body. It is almost impossible to avoid the effects of free radicals in the modern world, especially for residents of a megalopolis. After all, they are formed under the influence of a large number of factors. Among them:
– UV radiation
– environmental situation
– constant stress
– passive smoking
– heavy physical activity
– residual traces of medications taken.
How do free radicals work?
In the human body, free radicals tend to take the missing electron from healthy cells. This damages our cells and organs, and they begin to break down. Free radicals damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They injure nerve cells, causing deterioration of memory and thinking. They “spoil” the retina of the eye, causing cataracts. They are the cause of oncological diseases. They “attack” DNA, which is fraught with hereditary diseases in subsequent generations. It is free radicals that are responsible for the fact that the body begins to get sick and age ahead of time.
What are antioxidants and why are they needed
Antioxidants – are natural compounds that inhibit the oxidation process in our body. Antioxidants act as a natural shield for the body. Once in the body, antioxidants give their electrons to defective molecules and damaged cells, without losing their stability and activity. Due to this, the process of destruction of molecules and cells stops, oxidation reactions do not begin.
In the process of fighting, antioxidants also become free radicals, but they do not destroy cells because they have no power.
Why it’s Important to Add Antioxidants to Your Diet
The modern human body really needs help to fight free radicals. And the sooner we are properly involved in this struggle, the longer we will remain healthy, young and beautiful.
It is worth noting that antioxidants are divided into 2 groups:
– antioxidants of enzymatic nature
– non-enzymatic antioxidants.
The first ones are already “embedded” in our cells, protect DNA and correct errors that occur during regeneration. However, in addition to the “breakdowns” that occur during the functioning and renewal of cells, the body is adversely affected by factors such as UV radiation, stress, etc. And to resist them, only antioxidant enzymes are not enough. Therefore, the second group of antioxidants (non-enzyme) comes into the fight. A small part of them is synthesized in our body, but most of them should get into it with food. Only a full complex of these substances can resist aging and diseases.
Where to look for antioxidants
Today, manufacturers offer a large number of biologically active food additives containing antioxidants. However, since there is not enough evidence of their effectiveness, it is better to add natural products to the diet.
The best source of antioxidants is fruits and vegetables. Namely: all plants are green, dark green, purple, dark purple, dark red, orange, yellow, red flowers. Blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, apples, prunes, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, eggplants, nuts (pecans, walnuts), red beans, black beans. Red wine and cocoa are rich in antioxidants. There are a lot of antioxidants in sea buckthorn, grapes (and its seeds. However, ordinary tea significantly surpasses all these products in its antioxidant power. Its antioxidants are called flavonoids. By the way, their content in different varieties of tea is about the same.
The main food antioxidants are vitamins B2, E, C, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, iron. In company with them – lacto- and bifidobacteria: they decompose biochemical substances that can turn into free radicals. Antioxidants are also coenzyme Q10, pineal gland hormone melatonin, amino acid cysteine.
Vitamin A is found in boiled liver, butter, cream, sour cream, milk, egg yolks, fish oil.
Vitamin B2 is found in liver, meat, eggs, cereals, dairy products, whole grain bread, dark green vegetables and nuts.
Vitamin C is found in cabbage, lemon, orange, kiwi, green vegetables with large leaves, strawberries, papaya, green pepper.
Beta-carotene is found in carrots, pumpkins, apricots, red peppers, asparagus, spinach, green salad, orange fruits and citrus fruits.
Vitamin E is found in whole grains and vegetable oils. It cleanses the blood, lowers cholesterol.
Selenium is in garlic and broccoli. Protects against heart disease, cancer and depression.
Iron is found in beef, lamb, apples, pomegranates, beets. And fresh beetroot, currant and blueberry juices are even stronger antioxidants than red wine.
Zinc is found in whole grains (especially in sprouts, bran), fried veal liver, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dry yeast. Oysters are the champions in terms of zinc content.