What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants prohibit and can prevent the oxidation of molecules in your body, which can cause damage to living organisms. One of the ways they do this is by removing oxidising agents that would, if unchecked, be considered a health risk. Along with serving as a kind of protection and clean up crew, they also offer you many benefits that show on your surface, like healthy skin, by cleaning up all the waste – or ‘free radicals’ – from your cells before they can cause any damage.
The power of antioxidants is synonymous with the effect of these free radicals. The science goes like this: in order for a molecule to be stable, it has to have the right number of electrons. If a molecule loses an electron, it can turn into a free radical. Free radicals are unstable, electrically charged molecules in cells, which may react with other molecules and ultimately damage them. Antioxidants give the free radical the electron they need in order to stabilise them and by doing so, neutralises its threat to your health.
Your body already has its own natural defences for free radicals, but antioxidants give it the extra help that it needs by binding to the free radicals and reducing any potential harm to your molecules or DNA. Consider antioxidants the cavalry. If the free radicals, the pro-oxidants, outnumber the antioxidants, this imbalance leads to something called oxidative stress. This is when molecules in your body may be seriously damaged to the extent that it can kill those cells.
Benefits of Antioxidants
At a glance, antioxidant can help:
- To give you healthier, younger looking skin;
- Reduce the risk of cancerous cells spreading;
- Slow the aesthetic signs of aging that you will see in your skin and eyes (such as cataracts), as well as ageing to your body such as having weaker joints, and heart troubles;
- Reduce the risk of dementia and strokes.
Different antioxidants will benefit different parts of your body in the aforementioned ways.
- Beta-carotene is good for your eyes and the prevention of cataracts.
- Lycopene is effective in maintaining a healthy prostate.
- Flavonoids favour your heart.
- Proanthocyanidins are good for your urinary tract.
- Astaxanthin and Spirulina have been proven to enhance your immune system, and to protect cell membranes and cellular DNA from mutation.
- Astaxanthin is the single most powerful quencher of singlet oxygen, and is up to ten times stronger than other carotenoids (including beta-carotene), and up to 500 times stronger than alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E).
- Spirulina has a variety of antioxidants and other substances that are beneficial in boosting immunity.
High Antioxidant Foods
Getting a good balance of antioxidants in your body through what you eat can help with the detrimental effect on your health from things like smoking, drinking, drugs, medication and chemicals, along with too much sun exposure and too much stress.
Your body makes its own antioxidants, such as glutathione. You can find them in most animal and plant-based food sources, but pound for pound, the best high antioxidant natural food sources include:
- Goji berries
- Wild blueberries
- Dark chocolate
- Kidney beans
Because these are a high antioxidant source when consumed in larger portions, you may well find it more reasonable, both in terms of money and appetite, to eat better known household favourites including:
- Sweet potatoes
Medical experts suggest that as part of a healthy balanced diet, you ought to get four portions of antioxidant foods throughout your day. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to eat it all, either. Fruit smoothie blends containing the aforementioned berries will give you one of your essential doses. But how else can you ensure you are getting all that you need?
Supplementing your antioxidant means that you know for a fact that your body is getting precisely what it needs. Here are our top choices:
- Superfood XS is MyProtein’s blend of various fruits and vegetables in the form of freeze dried and filtered fruit and vegetable powders. The very wide-ranging selection of fruits and veg and high vitamin C content is a mighty antioxidant ally in the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that you can consume in single capsule form with meals.
- Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids and Rosehip is a sure and simple, and tested way to combat oxidative stress by ensuring that you get your vitamin C with these handy water-soluble gems.