The Role of Antioxidants in Your Diet and What are the best sources for antioxidants
Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as enzymes (proteins in your body that assist in chemical reactions). They are believed to play a role in preventing the development of such chronic diseases as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts.
Free radicals are chemically active atoms or molecular fragments that have a charge due to an excess or deficient number of electrons. Free radicals containing oxygen, known as reactive oxygen species , are the most biologically significant free radicals.
Because they have one or more unpaired electrons, free radicals are highly unstable. They scavenge your body to grab or donate electrons, thereby damaging cells, proteins, and DNA (genetic material). The same oxidative process also causes oils to become rancid, peeled apples to turn brown, and iron to rust.
It is impossible for us to avoid damage by free radicals. Free radicals arise from sources both inside and outside our bodies. Oxidants that develop from processes within our bodies form as a result of normal aerobic respiration , metabolism, and inflammation. Free radicals form from environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise , radiation, smoking and alcohol . Our antioxidant systems are not perfect, so as we age, cell parts damaged by oxidation accumulate.
Antioxidants block the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. In doing so, the antioxidants themselves become oxidized. That is why there is a constant need to replenish our antioxidant resources.
You can usually identify foods that are rich in antioxidants by their color. Fruits and vegetables that are deep red, orange and yellow contain carotenoids like beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein. These antioxidants promote healthy cell development. Tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes and dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach are all excellent sources of carotene.Another wonderful source of antioxidants is raw cacao.Unprocessed chocolate and cocoa have significant antioxidant levels and have been linked to disease prevention and health improvement.Unprocessed cocoa has a 10-percent concentration of antioxidants. The antioxidant procyanidin, found in dark chocolate, can play a major role helping to reduce the risk of blood clotting and stress on the heart, as well as relaxing blood vessels.
Also the antioxidant list won’t be complete without mentioning the herbs and spices. Spices not only add variety and flavor to your foods; they have many health benefits due to their antioxidant content. Spices like cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, cloves, curry and red pepper are excellent antioxidant sources. Add any of these spices to a sauce or marinade to help you in your quest for healthier living.
Antioxidants are magic food components.They are the bodyguards , living in your body.Make your diet rich in antioxidants and your body will benefit from it as well as you will feel great.
Sending Blessings and Love