Antioxidants are extremely potent weapons that you can put into your arsenal, and diet, today to fight free radical damage to your body's cells.
When you consume a lot of antioxidants in the form of yummy fruits and vegetables (found below) you can basically furnish your body with the building blocks to prevent oxidation damage, premature aging and cellular damage.
Antioxidants in Everyday Foods
Part of the reason that doctors and nutritionists today recommend fruits, vegetables and healthy legumes so vehemently is that these foods are chock full of antioxidants.
You can, as an example, find ample amounts of beta-Carotene - the chemical precursor to antioxidant Vitamin A - in common foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, green peppers and watermelon.
The amazing thing is that a lot of antioxidants have a synergistic benefit with one another so eating, for instance, foods that contain both beta-Carotene and Vitamin C - foods like grapefruit, squash and broccoli - can work to provide you with essential amino acids, health-bolstering nutrients and a ton of youth-promoting antioxidants!
Eating antioxidant-rich foods also provides a leg up to your immune system and helps fight everything from inflammation in the body, certain types of cancer, and the free radical damage that's thought to be at the heart of the aging process itself.
How Exactly do Antioxidants Work?
Antioxidants are technically nutrients - think vitamins and minerals - as well as enzymes within your body - things like proteins - that work to sidestep or reverse cellular damage to your body's tissues.
Nutrients like Vitamin C are such amazing antioxidants because they slow down or stop altogether the process whereby free radicals begin to oxidize in the body. Free radicals are technically a group of atoms with unpaired electrons caused by certain molecules interacting negatively with oxygen - hence the name, oxidization.
Antioxidants are such a valuable addition to your diet because the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can get in there and neutralize the free radicals from kicking off the oxidation process and doing real damage to your body's cells. (Your body actually has its own enzymes for dealing with some free radical damage, but that may not always be enough to sidestep free radical damage.)
If we're exposed to an overwhelming amount of free radicals - say from cigarette smoke or other pollutants - or we don't have a diet high in antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, then we may encounter problems.
Your body is actually designed to handle some free radical damage - and can combat age-related damage with its own enzymes - but it needs antioxidant micronutrients like Vitamin C and trace minerals like selenium to fuel its endogenous antioxidant enzyme defenses, neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidation damage.
Antioxidants and Disease Prevention
Because antioxidants help out your body on a cellular level, they've been implicated in a whole host of disease-prevention protocols. Over the years antioxidants have been reported to reduce the chances of developing cancer (e.g., melanoma), cognitive impairments like Alzheimer's disease, eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts, cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction.
Considering the fact that heart disease and cancer have consistently been the number one and two killers in the United States, incorporating more antioxidants into your diet is a must for a full and vibrant life. All antioxidants, though, aren't created equal in the sense that some are more powerful than others and certain antioxidants really ramp up the protective benefits for particular organs in the body.
- Antioxidants for VisionFor instance, the beta-Carotene found in carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins are recommended for preventing the free radical damage that can cause eye problems like macular degeneration. '
- A recent super food known as goji berry has also made headlines recently due to the fact that just one serving has your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of beta-Carotene; indeed, goji berries, sometimes called lycium, have been touted in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia for their ability to help people maintain great vision far into old age.
- Because cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are still the primary causes of blindness and severe visual impairment today in the United States, taking antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-Carotene as well as minerals like zinc and copper are all recommended for optimal eye health.
- Antioxidants and Cardiovascular DiseaseThe American Heart Association actually forwarded a piece of exciting research stating that antioxidant vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, along with beta-Carotene, may lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Another piece of good news is that the antioxidant lycopene, found predominately in tomatoes, can improve your heart health and, for male readers, prostate health as well.
Antioxidants Offer Protection Against Disease
The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables work to prevent free radical damage, slow the aging process, and increase your chances of living a long, joyous life!