You’ve probably heard of antioxidants before, but what are they exactly? Put simply, c60 antioxidants are nutrients that help protect your cells from damage. This damage is caused by unstable molecules known as “free radicals.” Free radicals can cause cellular damage that may lead to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Luckily, our bodies naturally produce substances known as antioxidant enzymes that help neutralize free radicals. However, these enzymes can become depleted due to factors such as stress, poor diet, smoking, and exposure to environmental toxins. When this happens, we need to get antioxidants from external sources in order to protect our cells and keep our bodies healthy. Below is a more detailed look at how antioxidants work and where you can find them.
How Do Antioxidants Work?
As mentioned above, free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells. This damage occurs when the free radical oxidizes—or “steals”—electrons from other molecules in order to stabilize itself. This “electron stealing” creates a domino effect, causing further cellular damage as the newly oxidized molecules to go on to steal electrons from other molecules.
Antioxidants work by donating electrons to unstable free radicals without becoming oxidized themselves. In this way, they slow or prevent the oxidation reaction and help repair the damage already caused by free radicals.
Where Can I Find Antioxidants?
There are many different types of antioxidants, and they can be found in a variety of foods and supplements. Some of the most common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, as well as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, bell peppers, strawberries, and papaya. Vitamin E is present in nuts and seeds such as almonds and sunflower seeds, as well as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and avocado.
Beta-carotene—which your body converts into vitamin A—can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, mangoes, and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. Selenium is present in Brazil nuts (just one nut has more than 100% of your daily recommended intake), tuna fish, whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice, eggs, and chicken.
How to Get the Most Benefits from Antioxidants
While antioxidants are important for maintaining good health, it’s important to remember that they work best when part of a healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are all important for optimizing your health and preventing disease.
In addition, some research suggests that taking antioxidant supplements may actually do more harm than good. This is because antioxidants can interact with other medications you may be taking— such as blood thinners or chemotherapy drugs —and cause negative side effects. It’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement, including antioxidants.
As you can see, there are many easy ways to get more antioxidants into your diet. Incorporating just a few servings of these foods into your daily routine can make a big difference in terms of protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals. So next time you’re at the grocery store or planning out your meals for the week ahead, be sure to keep these antioxidant-rich foods in mind!