Antioxidants are natural or artificial substances that slow and stop the damage of tissues and cells by attacking free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an electron that is unpaired. Free radicals are metabolism byproducts that are natural and are created as a response to environmental stressors. For example, cigarette smoke or exposure to pollution.
However, excessive amounts of free radicals could send the body into a frenzy. This could lead to oxidative stress that has been linked to numerous serious illnesses such as heart disease. Some neurodegenerative diseases, for example, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, plus cancer have been associated as well. Antioxidants’ task is to keep a healthy balance of free radicals and assist in the prevention of oxidative stress.
How Antioxidants Function?
Due to the unpaired electron of free radicals, there are highly unstable, typically because electrons rather orbit atoms in pairs. Due to this, free radicals hunt other molecules within the body, taking away their outer electron in an effort to be more stable. This will result in damage to the hunted molecule during this process. During the metabolic processes, free radicals are naturally formed; however, the body could be exposed to free radicals manufactured by external sources as well. For example, air pollution, cigarette smoke, and X-rays.
The electron scavenging process of the free radicals has its benefits for individuals. For instance, as the immune system comes into contact with any pathogen. The response is to release a host of free radicals so that they can attack the intruder. The pathogen is damaged by the free radicals as they steal the electrons. This weakens the pathogen as allows the body to fight the disease off.
Free radicals could result in oxidative stress in large quantities. This is when there are too many free radicals which then start to attack proteins, fatty tissue, and DNA. This process is an essential part of embryo activation, which is a known predecessor of gene activation. This is a significant part of the process of fertilization and is vital to life. Still, too much oxidative stress could result in or aggravate serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer.
This is when antioxidants become the superhero. Different from free radicals, antioxidants carry additional electrons. This could result in antioxidants passing their extra electrons to free radicals. Leading to the stabilization of the free radicals preventing them from damaging the tissues and cells in the body. In this process the antioxidants fight off or retard oxidative stress, stopping severe illnesses.
Some Well Known Antioxidants
Typically the term antioxidant is utilized to portray various foods; however, the chemical property is the better description. An antioxidant is considered to be any substance that could deactivate the damaging properties of free radicals. Scientists have found thousands of substances that match this description and believe that they are thousands more. Two of the most common antioxidants discovered in food are vitamins C and E. Vitamin C also supports the immune system and aids in the repairing of cartilage, teeth, and bones. It also helps repair muscles subsequent to working out and produces hormones that manage blood pressure.
Carotenoids are a category of compounds located in vegetables and fruit that are yellow, orange, and red in color. These are also very common antioxidants. These types of antioxidants include zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene. Consuming large doses of carotenoid supplements, beta-carotene, for example, could amplify the health risks. For example, increased chance of lung cancer in smokers.
Other well-known antioxidants include curcumin, flavonoids, glutathione, allicin, and selenium. These are all naturally found in foods like apples, turmeric, and even some wines.
What Foods Consist Of Antioxidants?
Legumes, vegetables, and fruits are where antioxidants can be mostly found. Even though they could be found in practically each food group. Numerous health benefits are provided by fruits, including being loaded with antioxidants. Watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cranberries, peaches, and blueberries are all loaded with antioxidants. Due to the loss of mass from water, dried fruits have a higher percentage of antioxidants than fresh fruits.
Several vegetables consist of carotenoids, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peppers, carrots, and yellow, orange, and red vegetables. In addition several green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, and artichokes. A not-so-well-known supply of antioxidants is herbs and spices, which include ginger, basil, parsley, curry powder, turmeric, oregano, and cinnamon. Legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, and red beans are loaded with antioxidants, so too do whole grains and nuts.