Understanding Antioxidants

Understanding Antioxidants - Source Biology

Antioxidants are a significant defender of your cells from free radicals and may help with the prevention and mitigation of cancer and other various diseases. Widely regarded for their health benefits, antioxidants are molecules that can minimize or prevent the oxidation of other molecules.

Oxidation can create free radicals, and can also be a normal metabolic process or the result of factors like smoke and air pollution.

To offset oxidation, organisms can produce their own antioxidants. However, the free radical fighters are also naturally found in food as nutrients such as vitamins C, E, and A, as well as carotenoids, flavonoids, lignans, phenols, and tannins, which can all be factored into having a healthy body

Berries are typically known as being rich in antioxidants; among them are blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Of course, many vegetables are also known for their antioxidant content, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, broccoli, kale, and red and green peppers. Nutritionists commonly suggest eating a colorful range of vegetables every day including ones that are red, orange, and deep yellow. Also, be sure to include ones that are leafy green.

Other food sources known for their antioxidant content include walnuts and pecans although you may want to limit your consumption as their fat content is also noticeable. No matter which food you choose experts suggest you eat a variety to maximize your benefits.

A compilation of two studies recently found that a diet rich in flavonoids (powerful antioxidant agents) may extend the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease. Flavonoids typically can be found in foods like berries, red cabbage, kale, and dark chocolate.

Also, a study from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, found eating cranberries may help improve brain function and improve memory. The research evaluated the impact of a cup of cranberries daily in adults from 50 to 80 years old.

The history of antioxidants stretches back between 50 to 200 million years ago during the evolution of angiosperm plants. Such plants developed chemical defenses against byproducts of photosynthesis, and thus produced their own antioxidants such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and polyphenol.

But research has found the term antioxidant was originally connected to a chemical that prevented the consumption of oxygen.

A copious amount of study was carried out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on antioxidant use in industrial workings including metal corrosion prevention, and rubber vulcanization.

Recognition of the significance of antioxidants in a living organism’s biochemistry came with the identification of two substances as antioxidants: vitamins C and E.

Researchers examined how vitamin E prevents peroxidation of lipids which are molecules that make up the building blocks of living cells. Antioxidants were then identified as reducing agents that prevent oxidation in many cases by scavenging free radicals before cells can be damaged.

In modern times fruits are sprayed with antioxidants before air drying to prevent oxidation while high-fat foods are preserved by fermenting, smoking, and salting.

Unsaturated fats are the most common molecules to undergo oxidation which turns such fats rancid. However, some fat-rich foods (such as olive oil) have at least partial protection through a natural antioxidant content although are still vulnerable to photooxidation.

But no matter their usage, antioxidants are well noted for their benefits. That includes their contribution toward having a healthy body as they defend your cells against free radicals and oxidation.

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