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What is an Antioxidant?

Updated on January 5, 2011

It has been known long that antioxidants can inhibit the growth of free radicals which can damage DNA of cell. During recent years great many researches have been conducted to know the benefits of antioxidants in our body. Antioxidants are reducing agents which can prevent the oxidation of other molecules by getting oxidized. So any oxidizing agent that is present in our body could not oxidize cell DNA and therefore chain reactions which can damage our cells can be controlled. These chain reactions are basically responsible for causing diseases like cancer. Due to the increased prevalence and awareness about cancer people have turned their attention towards antioxidants and their benefits.

Fruits and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants and many other nutrients as well. In recent years due to the potential benefits of antioxidants many researches have been conducted on different fruits and vegetables and the findings of these researches suggests some fruits and vegetables to have superior nutritional powers.

These fruits and vegetables are therefore greatly advertised by media but sometimes food companies may over promote a fruit just for the sake of their own advertisement, e-g; packaged food companies do not use the real juice or bulk of the fruit but artificial essence to add flavor but they advertise their product as having many of the nutritional benefits that a packaged food cannot give. Therefore rather than taking packaged food it is better to eat fresh fruits and vegetables because these antioxidants cannot last long and should better be consumed from fresh food. 

Food Rich in Antioxidants

Dates: A cure for many diseases
Dates: A cure for many diseases
Carrots: The color says for the antioxidants it have
Carrots: The color says for the antioxidants it have
Peas: Healthy and rich in nutrients
Peas: Healthy and rich in nutrients
Beetroot:
Beetroot:
Chillies: Strong in flavor and in nutrients too
Chillies: Strong in flavor and in nutrients too
Spinach: Full of iron
Spinach: Full of iron

Antioxidants in Food: 

The colors of the fruits and vegetables speak for the nutrients they possess. The red color of carrots and beetroot, the green color of spinach and broccoli, the yellow color of capsicum and orange color of oranges all reflect the nutrients they have. If you keep these fruits and veges for long time the color fads and then a dull shade replaces it. Similar is the case with nutrients and antioxidants the food may have many antioxidants but when it is kept for long time or treated by any harsh process the antioxidants and nutrients are lost and remaining fruit may have very few nutrients left. Some of the fruits that contain many antioxidants include the following.

Pomegranates:

Whats so new with pomegranates that so much hype has been created about their use in the media and by researchers and nutritionists! Nothing new I think but there are facts which we did not know previously and now they are in the spotlight. Pomegranates are the most potent fruits and their health benefits are enormous. They contain many antioxidants that provide many health benefits. For a complete information about pomegranates and the antioxidants they possess read my hub Pomegranates: Fruit for Health

Broccoli:

Broccoli also contains many antioxidants some of them are not common in any other fruit or vegetables. Broccoli contain many minerals and vitamins along with the antioxidants.  

Green tea:

Green tea contain the main antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate. There are other antioxidants too. Read my hub Health Benefits of Green Tea for a complete information about green tea.

Soy:

Soy products like soy bean soy milk are also very rich in antioxidants.

Olives:

Read my hub Olive Oil Benefits and Methods of Use to get information about olives and their benefits

Benefits of Antioxidants:

The benefits of antioxidants are endless and should be known to eat healthy.

  • Antioxidants and Heart Diseases:

Coronary diseases have become common in every part of the world. Previously heart attacks were thought to occur more in advanced ages but today heart attacks and other heart problems are very common in young people too. The prevalence of heart diseases among young people shows that there is some problem with our lifestyle that causes such diseases. Our diet is the primary factor in it and a diet which is solely based on junk food, processed food and other unhealthy food cannot guarantee heart health.

Antioxidants have been linked with reducing heart problems like heart strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.It also reduces the level of cholesterol in blood. Studies are in progress to know in better ways how antioxidants reduces coronary diseases but it has been proved that they do have positive effects on our heart.

  • Antioxidants and Anti-aging:

Antioxidants are mostly vitamins and these vitamins have many anti-aging effects too. Vitamin c has been linked with anti-aging from quite a long time but now it has been known that aging process slows down to greater extent with the use of antioxidants-rich food in diet. 

  • Antioxidants and Cancer:

The prevalence of cancer has been increased manifolds greater than heart diseases. Our lifestyle patterns and our dietry habits especially has been linked with increased cancer prevelance.

 Antioxidants' first benefit is their power to oxidize any oxidizing agent by reducing themselves. In this way they prevent cell oxidation and protects DNA. Many researches have been conducted and many other are in process to know more about the effect of antioxidants in reducing cell damage in body. Though these researches suggest that antioxidants are anti-carcinogenic in nature but once cancer is in advance stage antioxidants cannot control further loss to the cells.  


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