11 November 2011

The Antioxidant Craze

Have you noticed how everything nowadays evolves around antioxidants? There seems to be some "antioxidant" craze among healthy-living people around the world. And no wonder, because antioxidants have proven to protect your body against the effects of free radicals, which damage cells and contribute to many different diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer and others.

Photo: jcoterhals
Free radicals
Free radicals can damage your cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage which is closely related to free radical damage. Antioxidants can slow down the oxidative damage to your body and may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

But here is the news - antioxidants are nothing new - we used to call them vitamins and minerals before. Don't you believe me? here is a list of the most common antioxidants:

Most common antioxidants
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
  • Selenium

Apart from vitamins, phytochemicals are the other powerful antioxidating agents:

Most common phytochemicals
Flavonoids / polyphenols
  • soy
  • red wine
  • grapes
  • pomegranate
  • cranberries
  • tea

  • tomato and tomato products
  • pink grapefruit
  • watermelon

  • dark green vegetables: kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels sprout and spinach

  • flax seed
  • oatmeal
  • barley
  • rye

But regardless of what you call them, one thing is sure - eating foods high in antioxidants is good for your health! Having that in mind, recent research has shown that unlike Europeans, Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables and the ones they are most often choosing - potatoes (in the form of French Fries), tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, bananas and orange juice - are far from enough to prevent disease, cancer and slow aging of cells.

Not only it is vital to include a good amount of antioxidant foods in your diet but to increase the health benefits of antioxidant intake you need a good variety of antioxidants because each prevents some of the worst diseases of our era - inflammation, cancer, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia.

But don't get too concentrated in antioxidants alone. It is when they are combined with other nutrients that they become such powerful disease preventing agents. And the best way to get better health for the rest of your life is to start a sensible, healthy and diverse diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables that will supply your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
How do you ensure a healthy diet rich in antioxidants? Share with us in the comments, so we can learn from each other!