Antioxidants are compounds in foods that stop or delay the damage to the cells. They are naturally found in many foods, especially plants. Antioxidants fight off cell damage by cleaning up or removing waste products (free radicals) in the cells before they can do harm. They are released from the foods we eat and travel through the bloodstream into cells.
Free radical is a general term used for compounds that are highly reactive, which means that they can attach, bind to, and ultimately damage normal cells in the body. The body has a built-in defense mechanism to reduce the impact of free radicals but it could use some help. That is where antioxidants come in to bind the free radicals, thereby potentially reducing harm to your cells.
Antioxidants work to guard the cells against damage caused by oxidants. Oxidants are free radicals that the body produces to defend itself against bacteria and viruses. Too many oxidants start attacking and harming the cells may put you at the risk of heart disease and cancer. Oxidants may also come across from external environment, pollutants, smoke, and alcohol. Antioxidants help the body by counteracting and removing these oxidants from the bloodstream.
Top Most Antioxidant Food
A great delight for all chocolate lovers! Indulge your chocolate cravings without guilt every now and then. Dark chocolate and cocoa are packed with an organic compound that is biologically active and function as antioxidants rich in polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. Harvard experts published a study suggests that chocolate with 70% cocoa is good for the heart. Adding too much can add to your calories, so moderation is the key. Note: Milk chocolate contains more sugar than dark chocolate. Always opt for dark or ‘bitter’ chocolate as these varieties usually contain fewer sugars & milk solids.
2. Kidney Beans
All variety of beans -black, red, pinto, and kidney beans are termed as whole foods due to their abundance of nutrients as well as being rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, flavanols, tannins and phenolic acids. These components have been associated with prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands at the top as the richest source of vitamin C, added to it is the presence of flavonoids that aids to recycle vitamin C effectively. Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants like carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene but the antioxidant that stands out in broccoli is indole -3 carbinol, a potent compound - the anticarcinogenic effects hinder the growth of breast, cervical, and prostate cancer and boost the liver’s health.
Strawberries are a great choice of berry that is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants -anthocyanins in strawberries have shown to fight carcinogens, lowers LDL cholesterol, and protects against cardiovascular diseases.
5. Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds contain a good amount of antioxidants. Roasted peanuts are richer in antioxidants than apples, beets, and carrots. Peanuts are high in antioxidants like polyphenols. Roasting boosts peanuts’ overall antioxidant content by 22%. A handful of nuts are a good choice of snacks to boost your health.
Antioxidant supplements are not necessarily good unless your health care provider recommends one. Consuming antioxidant supplements at higher levels may have pro-oxidant effects.
Do your best to have a varied diet with colourful fruits and vegetables, because colours indicate bountiful antioxidants. Red fruits and vegetables are rich in powerful antioxidants known as lycopene, orange and yellow varieties have beta-carotene, blue and purple are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.