Just what exactly are antioxidants and how do they work to protect your cells? Many people want to know the answer to this question.
Antioxidants are nutrients contained in the human body and also in fruits and vegetables. These nutrients are absolutely essential to the proper functioning of the body. They maintain good health by fighting the destructive aging of cells. They also protect cells from cell oxidation and damaging free radicals.
Properly functioning cells, as a byproduct of their operation, produced molecules which are damaged. These damaged molecules are called free radicals. These dangerous free radicals steal components such as fat, DNA and protein from healthy cells.
Antioxidants prevent cellular damage by voluntarily providing components to the free radicals, thereby stabilizing them. It is much better for the free radicals to take the components from the antioxidants than from other healthy cells in the body.
Why is this important? If there are not enough antioxidants in the body to provide the free radicals with the components they need, they will take them from healthy cells that are vital to the body. This can cause many serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants also play a vital role in improving the immune system response. An example of antioxidants would include vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene.
In my opinion, the best source of antioxidants are fresh fruits and vegetables. Berries are particularly high in powerful antioxidants. Here is a list of some of the most potent antioxidant loaded foods you can consume.
- Acai Berries
- Red Raspberries
- Green Tea
- Dark Chocolate
The Foods listed above all have a very high ORAC rating.
What Is ORAC
ORAC stands for Oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The ORAC method measures the antioxidant values of specific foods. For example, the ORAC value of Wolfberry is 30,300. The ORAC value of Blueberries is 5,100 and the value of an apple is 300.
As you can see, some foods are a way richer source of antioxidants than others. You would have to eat quite a few apples to obtain the same antioxidants that you would get from Wolfberries. but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t eat apples. Each fresh fruit and vegetable has its own important phytonutrients and nutritional profile. I believe it is important to eat a healthy mix of many raw fruits and vegetables. Try to get a good variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables, such as bright red, yellow and green.
Antioxidants Fight Aging
My grandmother is 92 years old and in great health. I believe that this is mainly due to the great quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables she eats every day. She has done this for her entire life. My grandfather always had a garden every summer and they ate many fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and green peppers. As for fresh fruit, I remember often seeing her eating apples, grapes and peaches when I went to visit her.
How about red wine? There is a lot in the news today about the antioxidant benefits of consuming red wine. It is true that the grapes used in making red wine are loaded with antioxidants. For those of us that do not consume alcohol, we can obtain these antioxidants in a health supplement called resveratrol.
Krill oil is another good health supplement that contains a very potent antioxidant called Astaxanthin. What I like most about Krill oil, is that besides getting this powerful antioxidant, you also get the healthy omega-3 component. There is a brand of Krill oil I have taken in the past that I like very much. It is called Schiff MegaRed. I purchased it at my local Walgreens drugstore. It’s rather expensive but it is a very healthy, high-quality product.
Mangosteen is another super fruit that is been in the news quite a bit lately. It has and ORAC rating of 20,000. This is extremely high, when you consider an apple scores at 300.
In conclusion, if you want to live a long and healthy life, be sure to include many antioxidant rich foods and supplements in your daily diet. If you, for some reason cannot eat fresh fruits and vegetables, I would recommend a high ORAC supplement such as wolfberry, Mangosteen or Acai. Or better yet, a supplement that combines all three of these.
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