Antioxidants are molecules in the body. They are found in plant-based foods, and these help the body fight cell-damaging free radicals.
Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects.
Free radicals are made when you are alive. They can also be caused by the sun, smoking, and pollution.
Free radicals damage healthy cells and play a role in many diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Free radicals also make people age more quickly.
Antioxidants are like bodyguards that protect healthy cells from free radicals. Antioxidants protect you, which helps keep your body healthy.
Many different substances act as antioxidants. Antioxidants can be found in berries, cocoa, herbs and spices, beans, artichokes, apples, nuts, and seeds.
Some of the best types of food for antioxidants are dark leafy greens like spinach or kale; grapes; tomatoes; potatoes, sweet potatoes; avocado; pomegranate.
To get more vitamins, minerals, and fiber, you need to eat various plant-based foods. You should have five cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day.
For example, have one cup of veggies at breakfast, two at lunch, and two at dinner. At breakfast, also have a cup of fruit. And every day has another fruit as part of your snack time or after dinner.
To get antioxidants, you could replace processed foods with whole, plant-based foods. For breakfast, instead of a pastry, have oatmeal with fruit and nuts.
When you have a sandwich or wrap for lunch, have a bowl of greens topped with beans and brown rice. Snack on fruit or vegetables with hummus or nuts when hungry.
Have dark chocolate when you want something sweet. In the morning, add cinnamon to your coffee and infuse it when making water or tea to get more antioxidants from herbs and bits of fruit in them too.
The goal is not to get a lot of antioxidants. There are high-dose antioxidant supplements, but they are not the best way to protect your body.
Some research has shown that high-dose beta-carotene supplements can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Taking high-dose vitamin E supplements has been associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke and prostate cancer.
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The best way to consume antioxidants is by eating whole, plant-based foods. This is because antioxidants work better with other ingredients like other healthful compounds.
Antioxidants are essential for our health. They help us get better and feel better.
But they are not a cure-all; they can’t be used to treat a medical condition without the supervision of your doctor.
Antioxidants are best in foods or products that have their whole form or are made from natural food ingredients because it’s the most delicious way to get your dose of antioxidants every day.
The article is written by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is a New York Times best-selling author and a private practice nutritionist who has helped five professional sports teams.