When learning about healthy eating, the topic of antioxidants inevitably shows up. What exactly are antioxidants, and why are they good for you?
Antioxidants are basically nutrients and enzymes that may protect your body’s cells from diseases. They do this by blocking the effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules looking to bond with healthy molecules in the body. When the free radicals are allowed to make these connections, the healthy molecules are damaged and health is compromised. Antioxidants can prevent those bonds from happening, keeping your body’s healthy tissues free from harm.
Research has found antioxidants may be helpful in defending against:
- Colds, flues and infections
- Cognitive decline
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Heart disease
- Effects of aging
- Development of cancer
- Effects of radiation
Antioxidants are found in fresh whole foods, especially those high in beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E. Fruits and vegetables are especially excellent sources of antioxidants. Some examples of these foods include:
- Orange, red and yellow fruits and vegetables such as apricots, pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potato and carrots
- Purple foods such as prunes, raisins, red grapes, eggplant and plums
- All berries
- Greens such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard, broccoli and Brussels sprouts
In addition, superfruits such as acai, goji, and mangosteen have exceptional antioxidant qualities. Think of them as little bundles of extremely concentrated antioxidants. These superfruits are native to South and Central America, China, and the Pacifics, and because of their delicacy it is difficult to transport them safely across long distances. Luckily, products made from these superfruits, such as monavie, are available. The juice supplement monavie is a blend of 19 healthy fruits and AcaVie, the highest concentration of acai available.
Antioxidants are believed to be one of the best defenders against the damage caused by free radicals. There are a variety of sources of antioxidants, including fresh fruits, vegetables and superfruits. A diet rich in these foods can keep you healthy and energetic for many years to come.