Antioxidants are natural compounds that help protect the body from, harmful free radicals. Many different factors can lead to an excess of free radicals as: exposure to radiation, whether from the sun or from medical x-rays, environmental pollutants such as tobacco and automobile exhaust, household chemicals, a diet high in fat. By destroying free radicals, antioxidants help to detoxify and protect the body.
Thousands of antioxidants naturally occur in plant foods. The most well known are vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and selenium. Foods rich in natural antioxidants are tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers. Vegetables and fruits that have a rich color are high in phytonutrients. Blueberries, spinach, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe and mangoes are also containing antioxidants. Citrus fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Vegetable oils such as olive oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and whole grains such as wheat, brown rice and soybean provide natural antioxidants.
Phytochemicals are the powerful plant compounds that work as antioxidants. Tomatoes contain lycopene - a red carotenoid that exhibits antioxidant properties. Higher consumption of such foods is known to maintain and boost immune functions. Green tea is rich in polyphenols and flavenoids that have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral properties.
Where to find?
Some of most known antioxidant supplements include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Selenium and Zinc. Other antioxidant enriching substances are green tea extract, gingko biloba and flavonoids such as grape seed extract and red wine.
Although colorful fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants, and should be a part of our diet, it can be difficult to consume the right amount every day to ensure that we are getting all of the antioxidants that our body needs. This is where antioxidant supplements can be helpful, and should be considered an essential part of your supplementation program.
Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer etc are all contributed by oxidative damage. Indeed, a recent study conducted by researchers from London found that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.