What is an antioxidant?

While there are many ways to describe what antioxidants are, let me start by giving you an example from our daily life.We all have seen that an apple or a banana turns brown after it has been cut for a while. In apples and bananas this is due to the the chemicals in their flesh are exposed to the oxygen in the air, which promotes the formation of polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the fruit to turn brown. This process is called oxidation.

The trick to prevent them from turning brown is to coat the cut bananas and apples with citrus juice, such as orange, lemon or lime juice. Basically, if you slice a banana or cut in half for later use, coat it with an acidic juice before refrigerating it. It's possible to keep cut bananas from turning brown by mixing them with oranges, grapefruits and other acidic fruits. This is something to keep in mind when preparing fruit salads. Just make sure you first cut the acidic fruits and then add banana or apple slices. This happens because citrus fruits have antioxidants which prevents or inhibits the oxidation process.

Such is the work of Antioxidants!! 

It inhibits the process of oxidation.

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in our body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

What are free radicals, and what’s the difference between free radicals vs. antioxidants?

Free radicals accumulate in the body due to oxidative stress, which can be caused by a number of different factors, including diet and lifestyle. Over time, free radicals can cause cell damage and contribute to the development of chronic disease. 

Antioxidants help neutralize these harmful free radicals to prevent the potential negative effects on health. Our body needs to maintain a certain balance between free radicals and antioxidants. When this equilibrium is disrupted, it can lead to oxidative stress.

So why are antioxidants good for you?

Research suggests that when it comes to longevity and overall health, some of the benefits of consuming antioxidant foods, herbs, teas and supplements include:

• Slower signs of aging, including of the skin, eyes, tissue, joints, heart and brain

• Healthier, more youthful, glowing skin

• Reduced cancer risk

• Detoxification support

• Longer life span

• Protection against heart disease and stroke

• Less risk for cognitive problems, such as dementia

• Reduced risk for vision loss or disorders, like macular degeneration and cataracts

• Prevention of oxidation and spoilage

Although our body has its own antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals in check, we need to have a diet rich in antioxidants to maintain the healthy equilibrium.

Antioxidants rich food

Antioxidants are found in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants.

The health benefits associated with a diet rich in plants is at least partially due to the variety of antioxidants they provide.

Berries, green tea, coffee, dark chocolate, turmeric and extra virgin olive oil are renowned for being good sources of antioxidants.

Should you take antioxidant supplements?

Dietary intake of antioxidants is essential for optimal health, but more is not always better. Excessive intake of isolated antioxidants can have toxic effects and may even promote rather than prevent oxidative damage — a phenomenon termed the “antioxidant paradox”. The best strategy is to get your daily dose of antioxidants from healthy plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

How to Get More Antioxidants in the Diet?

Bumping up your intake of antioxidants doesn’t require you to spend lots of money on expensive antioxidants pill products, immune system supplements or overhyped super fruit/superfoods. Instead, getting a variety of antioxidants foods in your diet can be as simple as eating more fruits, veggies or healing herbs.

Try fitting more fruits high in antioxidants into your daily meal plan by adding them to your breakfast and snacks throughout the day. You can easily take advantage of the multitude of berries’ antioxidants, for example, by using them to top off dahi, dalia or smoothie bowls.

Meanwhile, apples, oranges and bananas are nutritious, portable snacks you can take on the go to squeeze in some extra antioxidants. Be sure to also stock up your spice cabinet with plenty of herbs and spices rich in antioxidants, such as turmeric, cinnamon, oregano and basil. Then, simply use these tasty spices to add a burst of flavor to your favorite foods.In addition to antioxidant foods, you can also include some antioxidants drinks in your diet as well.

What is the best antioxidant drink?

Studies show that there are a high number of antioxidants in coffee thanks to the rich nutritional value of the coffee bean.Green tea is a great source of antioxidants as well.

Effect of Cooking on Antioxidants

Cooking can alter the content of antioxidants in food, and certain cooking methods can have a different impact on antioxidant levels. One study published in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science evaluated the effects of different cooking methods on the antioxidant content of red pepper to determine which methods can help minimize antioxidant loss. Interestingly, researchers found that stir-frying and roasting helped retain the most antioxidants, while boiling and steaming caused significant reductions in antioxidant levels.

Some antioxidant vitamins are especially prone to nutrient loss with cooking.Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to increase your antioxidants, which makes it easy to get enough of these important compounds in your daily diet.