antioxidants are a group of vitamins, minerals and colouring agents from plant compounds. Their main task in the body is to prevent the damaging effect of free radicals on cells. The absence of antioxidants can have a very negative impact on our health, to the point of premature ageing and problems in the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Antioxidants are therefore molecules that prevent oxidation or cell damage caused by free radicals. These toxic substances circulate throughout the body and damage the DNA or genetic structure of cells, inflame them and cause them to deteriorate. Free radicals can increase in our body from a diet based on processed foods, lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, lack of hydration, etc.
The body produces its own antioxidants, but they can also be obtained through certain foods in a healthy diet or through antioxidant supplements. A diet that includes primarily a mix of fruits and vegetables of various colours, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
Foods rich in antioxidants
Common antioxidants include vitamin A, C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and selenium.Each antioxidant has a different chemical composition and offers different health benefits. However, it should be noted that high doses of antioxidants can be detrimental to health.
There are a number of antioxidant foods to be taken into account and which should be included in any healthy diet:
- Rich in vitamin A : milk, butter, eggs and liver
- Rich in vitamin C : most fruits (berries, oranges, kiwis, melons, papayas, etc.) and vegetables (broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.)
- Rich in vitamin E : nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.), green leafy vegetables (spinach and kale), soybean, sunflower, corn and canola oils
- Beta-carotene : brightly coloured fruits (peaches, apricots, papayas, mangoes and melons), brightly coloured vegetables (carrots, peas, broccoli, pumpkin and sweet potatoes) and green leafy vegetables (beetroot, spinach and kale)
- Lycopene : pink and red fruits and vegetables (pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots and tomatoes)
- Lutein : green leafy vegetables (spinach, cabbage and kale), broccoli, corn, peas, papayas, oranges
- Selenium : pasta, bread, cereals, maize, wheat, rice, meat, fish, turkey, chicken, nuts, pulses, eggs and cheese
Benefits of antioxidant foods
Antioxidant foods protect the body against free radicals. Free radicals are the main cause of cellular ageing and disease. Antioxidants are therefore able to stimulate the immune system to help fight infections and protect the skin from premature ageing.
On the other hand, a diet rich in antioxidant foods is increasingly linked to lower levels of cancer. But, at the same time, it is the best solution to protect the cardiovascular system. Cholesterol becomes precisely the most dangerous to the body when it is oxidised by free radicals and attaches itself to the walls of the arteries.
In short, it can be said that antioxidant foods offer 4 excellent benefits for our body:
- Strengthen the immune system
- Protect against diseases of the cardiovascular system
- Protect against cancer
- Fight against premature ageing
Antioxidant supplements are beneficial for some groups of people in certain situations. They are mainly used to prevent the loss of certain nutrients from food, especially vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants themselves.
These antioxidant supplements are also particularly suitable for people who do not take enough antioxidant-containing foods, especially fruit and vegetables. In this way, the deficit of these elements in our nutrition can be alleviated.
In summary, antioxidants are elements that have numerous beneficial effects on our health. The best way to obtain them is through a healthy and balanced diet rich in antioxidant foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
In the event that some people are not able to acquire the necessary doses through food, antioxidant supplements can be used .