Antioxidants: A Brief Overview
What Is Oxidation?
Human beings need oxygen to live, but oxidation is harmful. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in the body that involves oxygen. This reaction produces free radicals that damage cells, thereby causing many deadly diseases like cancer.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants meaning: Antioxidants are natural or man-made molecules that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. We all have both free radicals and antioxidants in our body. Many powerful antioxidants are found in plants.
Vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid are antioxidant vitamins. Since human body does not produce these vitamins, it is important to include foods containing them in your diet.
Sweet potato, carrot, dark leafy greens, dried apricots and sweet red peppers contain vitamin A. Yellow bell peppers, guavas, kale, kiwifruit and broccoli are rich in vitamin C. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, mustard greens and hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E. Citrus fruits, beans, cereals, rice and asparagus contain folic acid.
Are you getting enough vitamins?
Carrot Is Rich in Vitamin A
Selenium, which is an important dietary mineral, displays antioxidant properties. It is the only antioxidant mineral. It converts natural hydrogen peroxide in the body to water. Brazil nut is an excellent source of selenium.
Brazil Nut Is Rich in Antioxidant Mineral Selenium
PRDX6 or Peroxiredoxin-6 is a protein that is encoded by the PRDX6 gene. It is a member of the peroxiredoxin family of antioxidant enzymes.
Antioxidant enzymes like glutathioneperoxidase, catalase, and superoxide dismutase metabolize oxidative toxic intermediates.
Phytochemicals are produced by plants; in fact "phyto" means "plant". Experts are of the opinion that you can reduce the risk of cancer by around 40 percent by including foods containing certain phytochemicals.
Ellagic Acid, carotenoids, polyphenols, resveratrol, flavonoids, phytoestrogens, isothiocyanates and glucosinolates are examples of antioxidant phytochemicals.
Green Tea Is Loaded With Polyphenols
Melatonin, the most powerful antioxidant in the world, is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It increases effectiveness of lymphocytes, which defend the body against harmful diseases.
Classification Based On Solubility
How Do Antioxidants Work?
Antioxidants are integral to body's robust defence system. Human beings produce and ingest volatile molecules known as free radicals, which react with vital cellular components like DNA. These reactions have a negative impact on the normal functioning cells.
Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals by donating their electrons to free radicals, thereby preventing them from damaging cells.
Many experts call glutathione (C10H17N3O6S) the master antioxidant. Glutathione is a tripeptide of cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. It prevents damage to important cellular components caused by free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. It is a cofactor for many enzymes.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is generally believed to be the universal antioxidant. This water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidant is an antiaging powerhouse. It offers a multitude of metabolic health benefits.
Unit to Measure Antioxidant Content in Foods
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is the unit to measure antioxidant content in foods. It was developed by the NIH in Baltimore.
10 High-Antioxidant Foods With Their ORAC Scores
Raw sorghum bran
Freeze-dried acai berry
Black sorghum bran
Raw sumac grain
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Clove Is an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Natural Sources of Antioxidants
Natural sources of antioxidants (other than the ones mentioned in the above table) include sage, yellow mustard seeds, ground ginger, black pepper, fresh thyme, fresh marjoram, goji berry, crude rice bran and chili powder.
- Oxidation is dangerous.
- Antioxidants prevent diseases.
- Glutathione is the master antioxidant.
- Clove is the best source of antioxidants.
- ORAC is the unit to measure antioxidant content in foods.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.— Mahatma Gandhi