As of late, antioxidants have ruled the health world as the popular kid. We like saying the snack we're having or the skin cream we use is packed with them. But what are they?
Think of antioxidants as a home security system for your body. They prevent the bad guys from getting in and when they do, antioxidants alert the good guys to help take care of it. With new research linking the positive effects of antioxidants with preventing diseases like Parkinson's and pancreatic cancer, there's never been a better time to learn more about them.
What They Do
An antioxidant is not a specific compound or physical object, rather, many different things fall into the antioxidant category. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are all considered antioxidants because of their actions in the body. An antioxidant defends the cells of the body against free radicals, which are molecules produced from toxins in the environment or by the breakdown and digestion of certain foods. Left to run a muck inside you, free radicals can damage the cells, causing them to age and leading to diseases like heart disease and cancer. Too many free radicals also means an impaired immune system, making you even more susceptible to bacteria and viral infections.
Where to Get Antioxidants
Antioxidants can be found in all sorts of foods we encounter daily. The benefit of getting your antioxidants through food sources is the mixture of antioxidants you get in each food. These antioxidants are also better absorbed and utilized by the body. Want to start an antioxidant-rich diet? Here are some of the best foods and drinks to shop for, recommended by the Mayo Clinic:
Drinks -- Green tea, red wine, pomegranate juice and coffee
Vegetables -- Spinach, pumpkin, kale, broccoli, potatoes (red, white and sweet, not peeled), red cabbage and artichokes
Fruits -- Tomatoes, apples (keep the peel), avocados, cherries, pears, plums, kiwi and pineapple as well as berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries
Beans -- Red, black, kidney and pinto
Grains -- Oat-based products
Nuts -- Walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and almonds
For an added bonus, enjoy dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. There are also certain supplements you can take to get an individual antioxidant's benefits. Some of the most popular and beneficial supplemental antioxidants include resveratrol, selenium, vitamins C and E, beta carotene, manganese and alpha lipoic acid (ALA).
The Latest Research
As mentioned before, having sufficient antioxidants can help reduce your risk for developing cancer, heart disease or macular degeneration. These two studies, both released this month, reflect the continuing research surrounding antioxidants and disease prevention:
In an animal study conducted by Dr. Bobby Thomas, a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia and published in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, a medication called synthetic triterpenoids prevented development of the disease. The drug helped to reinforce the antioxidant Nrf2 that helps to prevent inflammation and therefore oxidative stress and brain cell death associated with this disease.
Published in the July issue the medical journal Gut, this study found found individuals who consumed a diet rich in selenium were half as likely to develop pancreatic cancer and those who consumed a high amount of selenium as well as vitamins C and E were 67 percent less likely to develop the cancer. The study was conducted for almost 20 years, beginning in 1993, following the diets of 23,500 people who kept journals of their consumption.
No matter how you get them -- food, drinks or supplements -- you should look for ways to add antioxidants to your diet. They're your body's first line of defense against disease, and with all that's out there today, we need all the help we can get.
Products you may like:
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Garden of Life Perfect Food Berry Berry Why you may like this product? This mix from Garden of Life
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Featured Product - Liposomal Glutathione Glutathione is an important antioxidant that can help protect the cells of the entire body. Pure Encapsulations' Liposomal Glutathione supplement helps you get these benefits in a convenient softgel.
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