Antioxidants- a term most of us hear or read about almost everywhere- are substances in particular foods that help prevent cell from damage that usually happens as result of oxidation. When specific oxygen molecules are free in the body, they cause what is known as, oxidative damage which is the result of free radicals.
Free radicals haven been linked to several results of cell damage like cancer, premature aging, dementia, heart diseases, etc.
Looking at some of the health benefits that antioxidants impart:
- Better skin quality and slow ageing
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Longer life span
- Better heart health
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However, going after any one particular antioxidant might not really give the same kind of effect that you are looking forward to. Going by the results from study trials conducted in order to understand the effect of single-supplements have shown no significant results as such.
The whole idea about antioxidants being good for you comes from the studies and research that show that people who eat multiple foods rich in several kinds of antioxidants have better long-term health benefits. That means, eating a balanced diet and following the ‘rainbow coloured food palate’ helps. What this colourful approach does is help you get your hands on a wide variety of foods with multiple nutrients and amazing antioxidant properties.
Unrefined foods- fruits, whole grains, vegetables and other natural products that undergo very little or not processing provide high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients while being nutrients-dense.
Looking at some of the common foods that can help you get your dose of antioxidants among other nutrients:
Loaded with the powerful antioxidants quercetin and catechin, play an important role in preventing cell damage and thereby preventing you from cancer and heart disease risks, especially if you also eat the skin. As per research, the peel of apple contains 5 times more of polyphenols than the flesh inside.
Known as the anti-ageing fighters, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins; Anthocyanins are known for their role in improving vision and brain function. They not help in improving motor coordination but also help in improving the memory-linked to aging, along with reducing inflammation (linked with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) diabetes and heart disease risk.
Among the vegetables, the genus Brassica is considered one of the best, with cabbage being of the very impressive of the lot. Brassica vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli) contain compounds known as indoles, that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer affectedly. The red cabbage variety will also give you a good handful of anthocyanins (also found in blueberries).
With every sip of tea you get 2 antioxidants- anthocyanin and proanthocyanin. Both help fight inflammation. To top it, you also get a healthy dose of catechins, that are known to block away any kind of cell damage that might lead to cancer.
In Green tea, the epigallocatechingallate (EGCG) found abundantly in green tea is a particularly potent antioxidant and helps you improve your metabolism as well.
Grapes, especially the dark coloured ones, are packed with Vitamin C and selenium and antioxidants that may help against the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Out of these, anthocyanin and proanthocyanin might be really good for your immune system.
- Dark Chocolate:
When it comes to chocolate, the darker and bitter it is, the better. The flavonols found only in chocolate that has higher percentage of cacao (60% or more) has amazing health benefits. Dark chocolate also has lower calories than the milk or white variety and when consumed in limited, moderated amounts- lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevents your arteries from blockage.
One of the oldest forms of natural remedies, garlic has been known to be in use for prevention and treatment against various health conditions like heart diseases, cold, flu, cancer, diabetes and more. The active antioxidant compound allicin, found in garlic, is a powerful antioxidant with its array of healing properties.
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In conclusion, like mentioned earlier, it is wise to follow a healthy, well balanced diet keeping in mind the ‘rainbow’ approach-this not only maximizes the variety of foods that you get in to your diet with several different hued foods, but also helps you get the maximum benefits of all the nutrients present in them.
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