What Do Antioxidants Do & Foods That Are High In Antioxidants?

What Do Antioxidants Do?

An antioxidant is a substance that restricts oxidation. It is especially useful in counteracting the decay of stored food products and eliminating potentially harmful oxidizing agents from the body of a living organism.

If you are wondering about what antioxidants do, here is the most important piece of information. Some of the important benefits of antioxidants are given here.

Loads of food based substances contain antioxidants like vitamin C, lycopene, beta-carotene, etc. These antioxidants help to inhibit oxidation, or harmful reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides and any free radicals.

Antioxidants also help to:

  • Retard skin aging and promote dermal health to make the skin look ageless and flawless.
  • Reduce the risk of cancer, vision disorders and cognitive problems
  • Improve digestion and support detoxification.
  • Increase longevity
  • Prevent the occurrence of cardiac diseases like heart attack, stroke, etc.
  • Prevent oxidation and spoilage of household products and food items.

Role of Antioxidants in Human Body

A chemical reaction, which produces free radicals that can cause cellular damage in the human body is called oxidation. Increased level of oxidative damage in the body gives rise to many diseases like dementia, cancer, heart problems, etc. Harmful sun exposure, blue light, bad lifestyle, poor diet, drug abuse, smoking, side effects of certain medications, increased chemical exposure, high stress levels, etc. have many damaging effects on the body.

The main concern as to what do antioxidants do in the human body is that they help to fight these free radicals and reduce the oxidative stress. When consumed in the form of foods, spices, teas, herbs, etc. antioxidants help to reduce the harmful effects of free radicals, prevent oxidative stress and reduce the risk of inflammation and other health issues. Dietary intake of antioxidants helps to counteract the ill effects, eliminate free radicals in the body, protects healthy cells and stops the growth of cancerous or malignant cells.

Foods That Are High In Antioxidants?

After knowing about the benefits of antioxidants, people often wonder, as to which foods are high in antioxidants. Many fruits and vegetables are packed with high amount of antioxidants.

Some foods that are high in antioxidants include green tea, garlic, onion and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Black Plums/Prunes – While black plums contain a total of 4873 antioxidants, their dried counterpart called prunes contain around 7291 in just half a cup. These are one of the best foods that are high in antioxidants.
  • Red Grapes/Raisins – Likewise, red grapes have a total of 2016 antioxidants per serving while its dried version, raisins, contain 2490 antioxidants per serving.
  • Berries – Blueberries are considered as most important foods that are high in antioxidants. They contain more antioxidants than nearly 40 other common vegetables and fruits. A cup of wild blueberries is enriched with about 13,427 antioxidants. Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant found in cranberries, strawberries and raspberries which helps to boost the ability of another antioxidant called quercetin to eliminate cancerous cells. Blackberries are a rich source of antioxidants which can render many health benefits but this fruit is also packed with polyols, the main component in sugar substitutes, which can cause abdominal problems.
  • Oranges – Like peaches and watermelons, oranges are also rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant which can lower the risk of arthritis by 20 to 40%.
  • Cherries – Juicy cherries are one of best sources of the antioxidant called melatonin. Melatonin promotes regeneration of skin cells, repairs sunburnt skin and guards the skin against harmful ultraviolet radiation. A store house of vitamin C, cherries also help to build collagen and prevent the appearance of early signs of ageing.
  • Green Leafy Vegetables – Green leafy veggies like kale and spinach are rich sources of vitamins and antioxidants, like beta-carotenene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to fight cancer, prevent macular degeneration and promote healthy eyesight.
  • Sprouts – Brussels sprouts contain loads antioxidants called sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, which detoxify the body from cancer-causing substances. Studies show that men who consumed Brussels sprouts every day for 3 weeks had 28% less genetic damage and had a lower chance of contracting cancer than ones who did not eat sprouts. Alfafa is rich in vitamin E and the beta-carotene antioxidant. It helps to prevent heart problems, keep lung and bladder cancer at bay and maintain excellent dermal, dental and musculoskeletal health.
  • Broccoli Flowers – Packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, broccoli is a dietary “must-have”. Studies have shown that men who ate at least 5 servings per week of cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, were 50% less likely to develop bladder cancers than others.
  • Beets – Beet roots are packed with essential vitamins, iron, calcium, protein and potassium and its antioxidant properties are unparalleled.
  • Onions – Onions contain significant amounts of phyto-chemicals which are helpful in preventing prostate and lung cancer. Like most vegetables, onions also prove most beneficial for health when eaten raw.
  • Red Bell Peppers – Bell pepper is light on calories but heavy on vitamin C. A medium sized pepper provides nearly 150% of the daily recommended amount of this vitamin and proves effective in keeping heart ailments and atherosclerosis at bay.
  • Eggplant – The bitter chlorogenic acid present in all kinds of eggplants can prevent the accumulation of unhealthy plaque in artery walls and keep cardiac ailments away. It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels, relaxes the arteries and fights cancer as well.

Now that you know what antioxidants do and about the foods that are high in antioxidants, you can surely plan a healthy diet for yourself. By consuming foods, teas, herbs, supplements which are rich in antioxidants, one can enhance their longevity and overall health naturally.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 14, 2017

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