Antioxidants are nutrients in our food chain that prevent the oxidative damage to our body. Our body uses oxygen and produces free radicals that can cause damage to the body. Free radicals are molecules of oxygen with only one electron. This causes the free radical to bond with other molecules to remove the electron deficiency. Antioxidants will bond with these free radicals and make them harmless. Antioxidants remove or nullify the effects of these free radicals and also repair the damage done by them. Health problems caused by free radicals are heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes and cancer. Antioxidants also boost the immune system thus making the body less susceptible to germs and infections.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium are vital to a healthy diet and body. They are antioxidants that are found in many types of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oil, nuts, brown rice, legumes and dark leafy green vegetables. Beta carotene is there in carrots, red and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes and mangoes. Selenium can be found in sea food, Brazil nuts, poultry , dairy products, onion, garlic and wheat germ.
Antioxidants are found in beans, grain products, fruits and vegetables. The brighter the color of the food the more chances of it’s having antioxidants. Oxidative stress is also caused by smoking or excessive tanning and this could aggravate the health problems caused due to oxidation.
Artichokes and beans contain the highest amount of antioxidants. It is just unfortunate that they do not occupy a very high place in the list of popular food.
Some other high ranking antioxidant foods are cranberries and blueberries. Pecans, cinnamon and russet potatoes are also high on the list of food containing antioxidant. Pomegranate, red guava, grapes, apples and plums all contain antioxidants as do the beans whether they are pinto, black or the red variety. Black and green tea is a good source of antioxidants and its high consumption in Asiatic countries leads to lesser incidence of cancer and other diseases in these areas. Tomatoes, the red variety, contain lycopene which is an anti aging antioxidant. Carrots, radishes, broccoli, red bell peppers, and zucchini are also known to contain a fair amount of antioxidants.
Acai berry is one berry that is very rich in antioxidant, but as this is an exotic type of berry, one can make do with blackberry, blueberry or cranberry. Spices that are rich in antioxidant are oregano, cumin, marjoram, rosemary, dill, ginger, tarragon, thyme and sage. You can thus add this to your food and spice it up and also get the benefit of the antioxidant. Fresh garlic, cinnamon and peppermint can also go on this list of antioxidants.
Now for the good news. Chocolates contain a fair amount of antioxidants and especially the darker varieties are real super foods and contain three times the antioxidants that green tea does. Dark chocolate also helps to keep the skin hydrated and thus lessen sun damage to it.