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Antioxidants and Your Health

 Known for saving your cell phone from a cracked screen, antioxidants in green tea, vitamins and other fruits and vegetables are now being heralded as good health good guys. Antioxidants are molecules that are capable of removing dangerous free radicals from the body. Free radicals damage cellular membranes resulting in cell death. The various by-products left behind are toxic free radicals that cause disease. Hence, antioxidants can keep diseases at bay.

There are several types of antioxidants, including organic, inorganic, molecular and vitamins. There is an ongoing debate as to what are the best sources of antioxidants. Green tea is a rich source of antioxidants, but you will need to drink it in supplement form as it cannot be absorbed in the body through the traditional diet. Vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are packed with antioxidants.

It has been argued by many health experts that a diet that is rich in antioxidants can reduce the risk of heart disease. These include studies that have shown that high levels of selenium in the body reduce the risk of blood clots that can lead to stroke. selenium plays a vital role in keeping your arteries clean and free of plaque buildup. You can get enough antioxidants in your diet through organ meats, egg yolk, fish, poultry and nuts. Drinking lots of fresh lemon juice, especially when consumed on a daily basis, also provides a large number of antioxidants.

If you are going to take supplements, be sure that you buy those that contain a variety of antioxidants rather than just vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that is needed by every cell in your body but only in small amounts. Vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant found in nature, while beta carotene is the second most abundant. Beta carotene helps prevent the development of cancer and aids in the prevention of atherosclerosis. Foods that are very rich in vitamin C are oranges, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, peppers, kale and watermelon. Omega 3 fatty acids are needed for proper cell function and so are antioxidants from brightly colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries, kiwi, oranges, plums, peaches and tomatoes.

There are two types of antioxidants, the free radical scavengers and the antioxidants. Free radicals can damage cell membranes, cause inflammation and chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants counter these free radicals with their powerful antioxidant properties. Examples of the free radical scavengers are beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, flavonoids, phenol, polyphenols and procyanidins. These antioxidant compounds protect against the development of cancer cells, heart disease and premature aging.

The antioxidant nutrients are extremely important in maintaining health. Oftentimes, we need to increase our antioxidant intake in order to achieve the recommended daily allowance for Vitamins A, C and E. While the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamins A, C and E are provided by natural foods these are not sufficient. In addition to these essential vitamins, we also need additional antioxidants. Many common foods that are rich in antioxidants can be enhanced by including the appropriate antioxidants in the diet in the form of supplements. Some examples of these supplements include beta carotene, lutein, alpha-lipoic acid, selenium, bioflavonoids, vitamin E and selenium.

Most vitamin C requirements come from the foods that are consumed daily. However, there are many vitamin C deficiency conditions that can occur if a person does not eat enough Vitamin C. In order to make sure that your body is getting all of the antioxidants it needs to combat chronic disease, it is important to take an adequate supply of vitamin C-rich foods. For example, eating foods such as oranges, broccoli, red peppers and grapefruit regularly will provide you with enough vitamin C to keep your body healthy. Also, vitamin C is needed to prevent colds and flu, so if you find that you are feeling run down and tired, you should consider taking a vitamin C supplement. There are some good vitamin C supplements on the market that can be purchased without a prescription, however, and these may help improve your health even more. Some of the most effective antioxidants on the market include: Beta Carotene - the orange color in cantaloupe is believed to be associated with an abundance of this antioxidant which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Lutein - this vitamin is found in carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, spinach and turnip greens. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants available and is needed to protect the body's DNA. It is believed that inadequate levels of lutein may contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Even though most people may not think of spinach or carrots as containing antioxidants, research has shown that they contain plenty of antioxidants to protect the human body from free radical damage.