What are antioxidants nutrients?
Essentially antioxidants are substances that reduce, neutralize and prevent the damage that is done to the body by free radicals. Free radicals are organic molecules that are responsible for aging, tissue damage and various diseases in out body. These molecules are unstable and form bonds with other molecules, destroying their structure and functioning.
How are free radicals formed?
As a part of the normal metabolic process and our everyday exposure to daily activities like eating, breathing and environmental factors like smoking or pollution, all contribute to the process of oxidation and free radical formation. This results in damage to the cells of our bodies, causing a decline in the immune system and enhancing the aging process. Health problems such as heart diseases, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer, etc. are all contributed by oxidative damage.
Benefits of antioxidants
As free radicals are implicated in all these processes, minimizing, and neutralizing their activity with antioxidants may allow us to live longer and healthier lives, look and feel better, reduce or eliminate the risk of certain illness. Antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease especially in smokers, alzheimer’s disease, stress related disease, depression, and cataract.
Aging is decreased due to antioxidants. Immunity is increased and they protect the body against the degeneration changes during aging.
Which are the antioxidant nutrients?
The main antioxidant nutrients in our daily diets are:
- Carotenoids (vitamin A) and vitamin C. Sources include citrus fruits like orange, sweetlime, lemon, Indian gooseberry, guava and raw vegetables like cabbage, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, etc.
- Vitamin E is also available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals, whole grain cereals and oil seeds, especially flax seeds.
- Selenium and zinc sources include meat, seafood, cereals.
- Copper sources include liver, mushroom, nuts, chocolates, etc.
- Rich sources of iron are meat, green leafy vegetable, liver, cereals and pulses.
- Polyphenols are the antioxidants in greentea- a cup of green tea supplies around 200 mg of flavanoids. The antioxidant potency in a cup of green tea is 400% higher than cup of orange juice.
- Spices like saffron, ginger, turmeric, clove, coriander seeds, etc. all contain good antioxidants properties. It reduces oxidative tissue damage of lungs and liver.
- The best oils that contain antioxidants are rice bran oil, palm oil and sesame seed oil.
Thus, antioxidants have immense role in strenghthening our immune system and protecting us from various diseases.