What are Antioxidants? – Know the Health Benefits
Everyone is conscious for health and desire to get the best out of it. This is why, in the recent times, we have so many natural food compounds getting attention. Among them, antioxidants are one of the recent hypes, because of its importance to health. In that direction, many of us have started hunting for foods with high antioxidant contents. Moreover, antioxidant supplements are also available online, owing to its overspread attention recently. So what are antioxidants actually? How do they benefit your health? Read ahead to know more.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are actually a substance in food that inhibits oxidation in the body. Literally speaking, oxidation counteracts or neutralizes the deterioration of food products. From the perspective of health, antioxidants are a substance that helps remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents from the body. Similar to enzymes protecting your heart and gut, these antioxidants protect your cells. These natural substances occur in plant based foods. Actually, there are more than thousands of antioxidant compounds out there in the nature. Each compound has its own benefits for health. Some of the antioxidant compounds found in food are flavanols in chocolate, lycopene in tomatoes, and resveratrol in wine. Vitamins C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene in Vitamin A and catechins are also popular antioxidants.
So what does Antioxidants do to Health?
Actually, antioxidants are compounds that prevent or block cell damage in body caused by free radicals/oxidants. And that is why they are literally called, anti-oxidants. Got it? So the very next question that arises on our mind is what are these oxidants and where are they from. Actually, oxidants are free radicals in the environment. Some oxidants can get into your body through pollution, smoking and even alcohol. Sometimes, these oxidants are also produced by the body through some natural process to fend against potential viruses and microbes. But when they exceed the required amount for the body, they become harmful. It can cause serious damage to the body, leading to complications in heart and other organs as well. Antioxidants are frequently linked in discourses about health and diseases prevention.
Most of the natural antioxidants come from fresh vegetables and fruits we eat. Apart from that, there are also naturally occurring antioxidants in the body along with free radicals. When free radicals in body outnumber the antioxidants, it can cause serious damage to body cells. This is why food sources rich in antioxidants are important to consume. The antioxidants present in these food sources help prohibit body oxidation and the resulting cell damage.
Benefits of Antioxidants
The benefits of antioxidants are many. As we know, there are a wide array of antioxidants and each antioxidants benefit different parts of the body. For instance, beta-carotenes are good for eye health while lycopenes are beneficial for maintaining prostate health. Similarly, flavonoids aid in heart health and proanthocyanidins benefit urinary tract health.
There are also skin benefits with antioxidants. High UV exposure of skin can cause photo-oxidative damage the formation of different reactive oxygen and free radicals. It can also cause various skin problems and premature aging. Astaxanthin, Vitamin E, and Beta-carotene are antioxidants that protect skin.
Antioxidants support body immune system. Astaxanthin and Spirulina benefit the immune system by protecting cell membranes and mutation of cellular DNA.
Thus, antioxidant intake becomes a necessary to optimum health, especially because of today’s polluted environment. Make sure to have a right kind of diet with essential amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that boost antioxidants in the body. This way, you can keep your body protected from free radicals. Experts feel that it is always effective to take antioxidants through food diet rather than supplements. To know about the antioxidant rich foods, look here for the post.