Antioxidants are unique compounds that have recently taken the health and wellness industry by storm. Generally, these compounds can be linked to improved memory, increased immunity, anti-aging effects, and a reduction in risk of chronic diseases.
As per their name, antioxidants are chemical compounds that help the body resist oxidation, which is a natural process that happens with aging. Like an apple cut in half and left in open air, oxidizing cells begin to die. Similarly, metal left outside will rust over time. This occurs due to the exposure to oxygen, which then leads to the creation of “free radicals.”
Free radicals are atoms, or groups of atoms, that can cause of chain of chemical reactions which damage healthy cells. Build up of these compounds can lead to what is called oxidative stress, which shows itself in premature aging and disease.
Luckily, antioxidants can inhibit the oxidation process and prevent damage associated with free radicals. In fact, some antioxidants may even be able to reverse or repair damage already done!
As your body ages, its natural production of antioxidant enzymes decreases, and thus supplementation becomes necessary to combat the oxidative stress associated with free radicals.
Due their diverse nature, antioxidants come in many forms, such as vitamins, enzymes, and phytochemicals, which are all available in the food nature provides. Some would even go as far as to call these plants “superfoods” for their ability to combat oxidative stress and signs of aging.
Some of the most antioxidant packed superfoods are listed below:
- Cacao beans
Cacao beans are native to Central and South America, and are rich in vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Most impressive is their bountiful supply of antioxidants, specifically the flavonoids anthocyanin and epicatechins, which places cacao beans above black tea, green tea, and red wine in terms of antioxidant capacity.
Kale, the king of calcium, is extremely high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and over 45 unique flavonoids such as kaempferol and quercetin. These attributes give kale the ability to combat oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
- Acai Berries
The small, purple fruits known as acai berries are native to Central and South America where they grow on the acai palm. These berries are high in fiber, vitamins, calcium, and amino acids. They also have an unusually high concentration of antioxidants, even more so than blueberries, pomegranates, and red grapes.
- Coconut oil
The aromatic coconut oil is impressively rich in saturated fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease, various infection, and boost the immune system. In addition, coconut oil is high in antioxidant vitamin E, which both protects against heart disease and prevent development of cataracts and wrinkles
- Sweet Potatoes
Replacing regular white potatoes with the nutrient powerhouse sweet potatoes is one of the best things you can do for your diet. Sweet potatoes are beneficiary to blood sugar levels and are also packed with carotenoid beta-carotene! This carotenoid, which is also responsible for the bright orange color, converts into vitamin A which is essential for vision and skin health. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C.
Generally speaking, antioxidants can reduce the harmful oxidation process in cells by neutralizing free radicals. This can then result in improved immune function, reduced inflammation, and lowered risk of infections! Get your antioxidants today!