Much hype has been created about the role of anti-oxidants in our diet. But do you really know how important these are for maintaining a healthy body? Ensuring an adequate amount of anti-oxidants in your diet can help you in a number of ways such as protecting your skin from environmental damages, preventing your body from cancer, and keeping your heart healthy.
Uses of Anti-oxidants
The fundamental job of anti-oxidants is to fight against free-radicals which can cause several health problems. Let us first learn a thing or two about anti-oxidants and why do we need them.
- Anti-oxidants fight against oxidation – a natural process which takes place in human body every day. The process of oxidation is induced by stress, alcohol and smoking apart from a few other factors.
- When there is an imbalance in the natural process of oxidation, free-radicals are formed which are potentially harmful and unstable chemicals. These chemicals when left uncontrolled cause damage to body-cells. This is the same chemical process which causes apple to turn brown when cut or which turns fish rancid.
- The damage of free-radicals can be seen on skin in the form of wrinkles. Free-radicals cause harm to the collagen present in your skin. Collagen keeps your skin firm and elastic. Therefore when it comes to wrinkles, dermatologists recommend using a topical cream, gel or lotion which contains some amount of anti-oxidants to control free-radical formation.
- Free radicals are not only formed in our body through natural processes but are also present in certain foods and our environment. Free-radicals can also be formed by exposure to sunlight which can affect eyes and skin.
- Free radicals give rise to plaque in heart vessels by trapping low-density lipoprotein (LDL). These chemicals can also damage DNA and all these changes can cause the onset of cancer and heart problems. Free-radicals can also cause ailments such as kidney disease, old-blindness, diabetes, cataracts and Alzheimer’s.
Food Sources Rich in Anti-oxidants
You can get anti-oxidants from various food sources. These compounds are mainly found in plant based foods. Here is a list of edibles which are rich in anti-oxidants:
|Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, collard greens, tomatoes and kale||Carotenoids||Neutralizes free radicals, possible potential as anti-cancer & anti-aging compound, enhances immunity and reduces the risk of several diseases.|
|Apples, apricots, pears, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, parsley, cabbage, onions, olives, green teas, black tea, whole wheat products, wine, oregano, citrus fruits||Flavanoids||Boost cellular anti-oxidant mechanisms, maintains brain function, contributes to brain and heart health, may also improve vision and urinary tract health.|
|Cabbage family vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, kale, collards, sprouts, radish and water cress||Isothiocyanates||May enhance detoxification in body, deactivating carcinogens. May reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer,|
|Red wine, red and purple grape juice, blueberries, cranberries, peanuts||Resveratrol||May protect the lining of heart vessels, may prevent inflammation, reduce low-density lipoprotein and formation of blood-clot.|
|Pomegranates, nuts, lentils, red and white wine, green tea||Tannins||May decrease the risk of cancer, potential anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic effects.|
Anti-oxidant minerals like manganese and selenium are found in small quantities in sea-food and meat. One of the rules of thumb when looking for anti-oxidant rich food is to eat varieties which are richly coloured. Bright orange, yellow, red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables are full of anti-oxidant properties. The substance which makes foods yellow such as Curcumin is also believed to have several health benefits.
Hence, it is very important that while you are shopping for your health foods, you must purchase colorful fruits and vegetables which may provide you sumptuous amount of anti-oxidants to keep your body healthy.