Antioxidants: These Foods Contain Them!

Antioxidants are natural ingredients that protect the body’s cells from harmful influences and can thus prevent various diseases. But what foods are antioxidants found in?

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances in the human body that can prevent or stop oxidative processes. Stress, nicotine, or sunbathing cause processes in our body that are called oxidation. From a chemical point of view, oxidation is the transfer of electrons from one substance to another: the substance that releases electrons is oxidized in the process. The substance that accepts the electrons is reduced. In the second form of oxidation, a substance absorbs oxygen and is thereby oxidized: so-called free radicals are formed – aggressive oxygen compounds that can damage the cells.

Apples are the best example of oxidation: a cut apple turns brown within minutes. But vitamin C can prevent this oxidation. It has an antioxidant effect. So it helps to sprinkle apple pieces with some lemon juice. As a rule, the body is in a good position to intercept these aggressive compounds and prevent cell damage. But when there is an excess of free radicals, they can wreak havoc. The immune system is weakened and the risk of diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer increases.

Antioxidants counteract negative oxidation processes and can neutralize free radicals. The body has enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Examples of non-enzymatic antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants are ingested directly from food. Antioxidants usually do not work in isolation, but rather in cooperation with other nutrients. To form enzymatic antioxidants, the body needs certain minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc, which are also found in the daily diet.

How exactly do antioxidants work?

It seems clear that antioxidants can be beneficial to health. But how exactly do antioxidants work? The body has antioxidant systems designed to prevent the damaging effects of free radicals. The antioxidants form chemical compounds with free radicals, rendering them harmless. They are said to have a protective effect on the development of diseases and aging processes if there is a kind of balance between free radicals and antioxidant systems in the body.

Which foods contain antioxidants?

It is advisable to include a lot of plant-based foods in the diet. Because antioxidants are particularly found in plant-based foods and provide the body with all the effective vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Vitamin C is found in many types of fruit and vegetables, such as peppers, broccoli, or citrus fruits. Vitamin E is found in plant-based sources of fat, such as nuts, seeds, and cold-pressed vegetable oils.

Minerals such as selenium, zinc, and copper are found in both animal and plant foods. If you want to eat a diet rich in antioxidants, you should use these foods:

  • Vegetables (e.g. peppers, carrots, spinach, tomatoes)
  • Fruit (berries, citrus, apples, green grapes)
  • Sprouts (lentil sprouts, broccoli sprouts)
  • Nuts (any but especially walnuts)
  • Natural, cold-pressed oils (olive and rapeseed oil)
  • wild plants (dandelion, goutweed)
  • millet
  • oilseeds
  • Herbs

What diseases can antioxidants protect against?

In science, the preventive effect of antioxidants on individual diseases is mainly researched, i.e. whether the intake of antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing a disease. Antioxidants are said to have a protective effect on diseases such as tumor diseases, complications from diabetes, skin aging, rheumatism, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative diseases.

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