So I’ve written a couple blogs that have mentioned the beneficial effects of antioxidants. Thanks to your feedback, I’ve decided to dedicate a blog to explaining what exactly antioxidants are, why they’re beneficial, and how you can acquire them through your diet.
To begin, it’s important to know that because of oxygen, our atmosphere is highly reactive. This means that the air we breathe is both good and bad for us. So we can thank oxygen for life, however, we can also thank it for producing many of the diseases which ultimately lead to death. Fortunately, we have antioxidants to help counteract many harmful oxygen-induced effects.
When we take a breath, a very complex set of chemical reactions take place in our bodies which enable us to produce and store energy. During these processes, however, a small amount of oxygen is converted to a toxic form that is damaging to our cells. Without getting too scientific, these “oxygen radicals,” as they are called, cause damage by stripping electrons and hydrogen atoms from neighboring molecules in our cells. This is where the beauty of antioxidants comes into play! Antioxidants are chemicals that donate electrons and hydrogen atoms to hungry oxygen radicals, thus sparing our cells from their harmful effects. Without antioxidants, we would be much more prone to cancers, heart attacks, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and other ailments. I suppose you can think of antioxidants as chemicals that sacrifice themselves for the sake of our health.
While your body has evolved its own set of antioxidant defense systems, it’s important to supplement this by consuming foods high in antioxidants. Below is a list of some antioxidant-rich foods. Remember that processed foods generally contain fewer antioxidants and that organic fruits and vegetables tend to have higher antioxidant levels than those that are conventionally grown.
- Carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, oranges, mangoes, pumpkin, and apricots
Dark-Green, Leafy Vegetables:
- Spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, dandelion greens, and turnip greens
- Tomatoes, blood oranges, grape fruit, berries, watermelon, cherries
- Milk, eggs, almonds, blueberries, grains, peas
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