I hear the term ‘antioxidant’ everywhere; in magazines, newspapers and even beauty product commercials. It seems widely accepted as a good thing for us, yet many of us have absolutely no idea why that is. An antioxidant is a chemical that protects and repairs damage to cells from being oxidized, thus decreasing effects of free radicals. When something is oxidized it’s combining with oxygen and could have harmful effects. Oxidation is what makes cut apples turn brown, fat turn rancid, and rust grow on cars. Oxidation is a natural process and not always preventable. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that can harm cells. Usually when something is oxidized it produces free radicals. Antioxidants inhibit this by preventing oxidation and also combining with free radicals to prohibit them from doing harm. If that went right over your head, just remember these points:Free radicals can wreak havoc in the body and may contribute to:• Cancer• Arthritis• Heart Disease• Infections• CataractsAntioxidants are extremely protective and help prevent these conditions, as well as help fight diabetes. Valuable sources include:• Fruits: All fruits are full of antioxidants, especially berries• Vegetables: Lycopene is a well known antioxidant in tomatoes that advertisers often refer to• Nuts & Seeds• Whole grains• Soy• Fresh herbs• Eggs• Tea• Dark chocolate: The darker the better! I occasionally see supplements that claim to contain powerful doses of antioxidants. It’s always better to get nutrients from food because food offers us many protective substances, such as phytochemicals, and others that we may not even know about yet! Those recovering in hospitals do better when fed real food rather than tube fed. Your body is usually more responsive to nutrients from the diet. So when it comes to antioxidants, pick a food from the above list!
You can also choose antioxidants from a whole food supplement source. Supplements made from whole foods will contain phytochemicals and all of the other naturally inherent constituents of the food. Fruit Antioxidant supplements are a great option when you don't have access to enough foods high in antioxidants or if they're too expensive at certain times of the year!