Antioxidants? What is that? Why should I include antioxidant rich food in diet?
After watching one advertisement, my husband asked me about antioxidants and I just replied him with the list of food which contains antioxidants. Though later on I thought about it that I do not have detailed information about it. So I started researching on net about it, of course knowledge Guru Google and i came across different articles which were difficult to understand. So I thought why not to simplify it with simple understanding & gathered few points which i think are really important for people to understand.
I am just jotting down my understanding which might help you.
What is the meaning of antioxidants? Why they are important for us?
Before looking for antioxidants, you must understand oxidants which are the main culprit and makes antioxidants important for your life.
Let’s try understand oxidants. Oxidants are free radicals that your body produces to defend itself against bacteria and viruses. When they become too many in number, they may start attacking and harming the cells, the damage caused by an overload of free radicals over time may become irreversible and even put us at the risk of serious diseases including heart disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (such as oral, esophageal, stomach and bowel cancers). Oxidation can be accelerated by stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sunlight, pollution and other factors.
Now coming to Antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body & compounds or substances that naturally occur in certain fruits and vegetables like flavanols in chocolate, resveratrol in red wine, lycopene in tomatoes or beta-carotene in carrots. These are all different types of antioxidants. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals (oxidants). Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your blood antioxidant levels to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases.
If I simplify what I understood, it sums up as “Though antioxidants are naturally produced in our body, to stop/reduce/reverse the bad effects of oxidants we need to include continues supply of good amount of antioxidant through external sources like antioxidant rich food in our daily diet as it is extremely important to maintain the balance between antioxidants and oxidants in the body to maintain good health.
It will also provides other benefits like slowing down the signs of ageing, making your skin look youthful and lowering the risk of heart disease. A diet rich in antioxidants is also known to keep your brain active and your gut healthy. Needless to say, all these factors help in improving the quality and length of your life”.
Here I am making a simple list down of food for you to understand what you are suppose to include in diet.
- Onions & Garlic
- Vegetables like Eggplant, carrots, sweet & white potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, pumpkin, parsley, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, green & red peppers and celery
- Fruits like grapes, mangoes, cantaloupe, apricots, watermelon, oranges, kiwi, apples, pink grapefruit, pink guava, papaya, peaches, pears and berries.
- Tea, green tea, cocoa, red wine and dark chocolate.
- Sea food, and lean meat
- Nuts like walnut and almond.
- Seeds like sesame seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and chia seeds.
- Whole grains like brown rice and oat meal.
- Herbs like Thyme & oregano
Final verdict: Include all different types of seasonal vegetables & fruits into your diet. Add little bit of seeds and nuts into your meal preparation. That is not necessary to include exotic or so called ready made super food options available in market. Stay away from packed foods and try avoiding unhealthy eating habits. Be happy & live healthy 🙂
For further information, have a look at the few antioxidants and top food sources .
1) Allium sulphur compounds: They have a very pungent flavour and distinctive odour due to the presence of Sulfur compounds in them like Leeks, onions, and garlic.
2) Anthocyanins: They are a type of flavonoid, found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue plants their rich coloring. Top food sources are Eggplant, grapes, and berries.
3) Beta carotene: This fat-soluble red/orange plant pigment combines with other elements to form vitamin A in your body. Top food sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mangoes, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, pumpkin, parsley and apricots.
4) Catechins: They are a type of phenolic compounds very abundant in tea, cocoa, red wine and berries to which are ascribed a potent antioxidant activity, especially to epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
5) Copper: This antioxidant nutrient helps your body use iron. Top food sources are Seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts, and legumes.
6) Cryptoxanthins: Cryptoxanthin is a natural carotenoid pigment. It has been isolated from a variety of sources … considered a provitamin A. Top food sources are red peppers, pumpkin and mangoes.
7) Flavonoids: They are just three among over 4,000 compounds classified as flavonoids. Naturally occurring plant pigments, flavonoids are one of the reasons fruits and vegetables are so good for you. top food sources are Tea, green tea, red wine, citrus fruits, onion, and apples.
8) Vitamin E: While there are eight forms of the fat-soluble vitamin E, α-tocopherol is the most bioactive form of this antioxidant in humans. Top food sources include spinach, kiwi, tomatoes, dandelion greens, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, broccoli, and almonds.
9) Vitamin C: This crucial water-soluble antioxidant has actually been shown to regenerate other antioxidants. Top food sources include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, cabbage, turnip greens, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, and winter squash.
10) Lycopene: This fat-soluble antioxidant can mostly be found in red/pink-hued foods. The most significant source is tomatoes, but it’s also found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava, papaya, tomatoes, and goji berries.
11) Selenium: This important antioxidant is actually a mineral, and it originates in soil, where it’s soaked up by growing plants. Top food sources include Brazil nuts, brown rice, mushrooms, oatmeal, sea food, lean meat, whole grains and spinach.
12) Polyphenols: Another category of pigments, of which the largest group is called flavonoids. It includes subgroups like flavones (luteolin and apigenin), anthocyanidins (malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, and cyanidin), flavonones (hesperetin, eriodictyol, and naringenin), and isoflavones (genistein, glycitein, and daidzein). Top food sources include romaine lettuce, blueberries, celery, tomatoes, peaches, apples, garbanzo beans, pears, oranges, almonds, strawberries, thyme, oregano and watermelon.
13) Omega-3 fatty acids: These polyunsaturated fatty acids come in three forms: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Some plant foods have ALA, but EPA and DHA are found mainly in fish and certain algae. The human body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, though the efficiency of conversion varies from person to person. Some people are efficient converters and may do just fine if they eat plenty of ALA. Others benefit from a direct form of DHA and EPA — whether from fish, fish oil or from an algae-based supplement. The foods highest in ALA are flax seeds (and flax oil) and chia seeds. ALA levels are also high in camelina oil, and there are moderate amounts in hemp seeds (and hemp oil), canola oil, and walnuts.
14) Lignans: They are a type of plant compound known as polyphenols. Lignan precursors are most abundant in flax seeds, although they’re also found in other seeds (like sesame seeds), berries, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
*Information mentioned above are purely collected from internet research and do not claim any scientific research.
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