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Each type of food in our meal comes with its use. Carbohydrates give you energy, vitamins strengthen you and protein gives you the strength to fight back. But when it comes to fighting the slow damage that time and age brings to your body, there is one group of fighters who you would be wise to include in your meal. These are antioxidants, a class of molecules which can battle the oxidation of other molecules and thus destroy an element known as ‘free radicals’.
The body produces free radicals in reaction to pressure and stress, and quite simply, antioxidants help reduce their harmful effects that range from cancer to Parkinson’s disease. Antioxidants occur naturally in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Read on to know more about the benefits of antioxidants.
Antioxidant Benefits You Must Know
Antioxidants are produced inside our body and can also be taken with the food we eat. A healthy presence of antioxidants can help in many ways, both visibly and internally, when it comes to the body.
- As your natural vision deteriorates with age, antioxidants like carotenoids form vitamin A within the body which in turn help protect your retina from sun damage. This means that you can see that much better in low light and do not need to squint in such situations.
- Sagging skin, which is prone to develop wrinkles, is firmed up by the go-to antioxidant for face remedies, resveratrol. It reduces free radical damage to make you look younger with time.
- Free radicals, show studies, are prone to wreaking havoc with your mental well being, causing not just anxiety and depression but also more harmful aftereffects like Parkinson’s. Antioxidants are known to fight the innate neuroinflammation which causes these diseases. You, therefore, end up being happier if you take in more antioxidants.
- By neutralising free radical elements, antioxidants also help tone down your vulnerability to sun damage and sunburns and can give your sun-damaged face a mean makeover. If you find your face reddening after the shortest walks on the beach, the way out is packing in the antioxidants.
- Antioxidants help boost your body’s ability to fight the diseases that come your way by building immunity. They fortify your natural defences by neutralising free radicals that are produced during stress and exercise, making sure that the next time you catch that cold, you also heal faster.
- Studies have increasingly shown the link between antioxidants and cancer. The former helps produce integral phytochemicals that have long since been held as cancer fighters. Effective especially for reducing the risk to kidney, liver and various other forms of cancer, antioxidants are a natural cancer-fighting option.
- Heart disease, to which anyone above the age of 30 is exposed to, is also fought with the help of antioxidants, specifically polyphenol antioxidants. Consult a doctor if you believe you are in danger of it and start living healthy from the get-go.
- A variety of antioxidants can also fight skin inflammation, which is an all-pervading offshoot of heightening stress and often leads to faster ageing and hyperpigmentation of the skin. These, in turn, make your skin lacklustre, something antioxidants can help fight.
- Antioxidant face serum can help replenish your skin especially if supplemented with green tea extract, ferulic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and resveratrol. While the effects on severely damaged skin might be slower, most face serums available on the market these days are already stocked with antioxidants because of the known properties of skin healing.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
There are three ways of exposing yourself to antioxidants. One is in the natural process through which your body produces antioxidants, the other is through antioxidant supplements, and the third is through the antioxidant-rich foods that you can eat. The third option is the easiest and can help you know which foods are right for you, and which are not.
1. Green tea
If you are looking for a daily source of antioxidant, green tea extract can help soothe irritated skin.
2. Dark chocolate
Good for the heart and packed with flavanols and polyphenols, dark chocolates with high cocoa content are the way to go.
The green vegetable is the go-to source for carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.
A whole apple, complete with a peel, can keep the doctor away by fighting cancer.
Walnuts, especially, are loaded with polyphenols, which is why most doctors prescribe a low dosage of them daily.
A wildly popular superfood, especially when it comes to red kale, this plant-based source of antioxidants is a must for every day.
High in fibre, beans are one of the most abundant sources of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Beets have the antioxidant betalain, along with a healthy content of potassium and iron that can keep you healthy.
9. Goji berries
Stuffed with not just antioxidants, this superfood replenishes skin and fights harmful diseases too.
Widely believed to be the most effective of antioxidant fruits, these are good for health and your skin.
Tips to Increase Antioxidant Intake
There are several ways to make sure that your body gets the antioxidants it deserves, not all of which are limited to food.
- One of the most excellent ways to increase your intake of antioxidants is to start your morning right. Drink a cup of green tea or matcha tea and begin fresh with a dose of this healthy nutrient.
- Use spices like ginger, close, cumin and oregano to not only add a punch to your food but also heighten the content of antioxidant vitamins in your meals.
- Replace greasy snacks like potato chips, fries, sugar candies and cookies with nuts, sunflower seeds and raisins, all of which are high in antioxidants and will not reflect on your body adversely.
- Studies show that cooking method relates directly to the number of antioxidants you imbibe. Cook food in the oven or even in the microwave, instead of frying, boiling or pressure cooking it to preserve the content it already has.
- Eat foods that are high on natural red and green colours, like carrots, spinach, broccoli and beets. Brown foods like potatoes most likely do not have a high dosage of antioxidants in them.
- Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits may not always do the trick, in which case, opt for supplements widely available in the market. It might also be worth it to carefully read the ingredients before deciding to buy a specific product.
While you seek out sources of antioxidants and bring them to your body, here is the answer to a question you may have about them:
Can Antioxidants Help Me Lose Weight?
Antioxidants themselves are not believed to be triggers of weight loss. However, if you are eating foods rich in antioxidants, then you are eating a diet that in itself can contribute healthily to your weight loss journey. Most weight loss diet plans are rich in green vegetables, fruits and nuts, which are all naturally high on antioxidants.
While antioxidants have numerous health benefits, you should consult your doctor before you make significant dietary changes or take antioxidant supplements. Sometimes, antioxidant supplements can interfere with prescribed medication you might be on, so let your doctor know what you are taking. A high dosage of beta-carotene can lead to increased lung cancer risk among people who smoke. Similarly, unnaturally high vitamin E content can put you at the risk of developing prostate cancer.
You must also strike a balance between oxidants and antioxidants in your intake. However, seeing that oxidants usually are more than the number of antioxidants in the body, it is not a bad idea to eat food rich in antioxidants regularly.
Antioxidants, the most essential component of today’s superfoods, are highly beneficial for your body and your skin. So make sure you find a healthy way of taking them into your body.