We all heard about antioxidants and how good they are for our health, but what do we really know about them and which foods contain them? Our body’s metabolism works most effectively in an alkaline environment, one that is achieved thanks to a diet rich in antioxidants. This article will show you how to get these magical components that help the process of metabolism and protect against cancer, heart disease and allergies.
Many studies prove the link between the quality of our nutrition and our health. But what is a proper nutrition? what it includes? one of the major components in balanced diet is called antioxidants. They are found mainly in fruits and vegetables, and the list of their benefits is huge: they improve the appearance of the skin, reduce the risk of heart and blood vessels disease, maintain brain function and prevent neurological diseases. They are also a major factor in preventing cancer.
What are antioxidants?
We all know that without oxygen we can not exist. But although it is essential to our functioning, so it also leads us to illness and death, as it oxygenates anything in our body. Oxidation causes changes in the structure of the cells, proteins and fats in our body, harms the blood vessels and the heart, alters the genetic material found in the cell and damages the brain, eyes and our skin.
As the body is aware of the dangers that oxygen brings, the body uses antioxidants that fight free radical and toxins. In many cases, mainly due to poor nutrition and toxins, our body needs more antioxidants than it can produce. We can supply the required amount only through proper nutrition, and sometimes by taking nutritional supplements.
It is important to note that the processes of oxidation in the body is accelerated not only because of a diet low in antioxidants, but also due to stress, pollution , smoking, chronic use of certain drugs, radiation, excessive exercise and chronic lack of sleep .
If only we could integrate these magic components regularly in our menu, we would be able to upgrade and improve our health and our quality of life and even lose weight. But how to do it?
Antioxidants are found mainly in fruits and vegetables, foods that are broken down in the body to alkaline minerals. Our metabolism functions best in alkaline environment, whereas acidic nutrition considers to be a fertile ground for infections, various diseases and obesity. Such a diet is typically low in antioxidants.
Below you can find the most important antioxidants to the body, which will contribute to a better health and proper weight :
1 . Beta Carotene
Foods rich in beta carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes , pumpkins , squash , mango , pomegranate and parsley.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that belongs to the carotenoids group. This ingredient is converted in our body to vitamin A in many cases, and has a similar roles. It is considered an important antioxidant against cancer and heart disease, it helps to increase the good cholesterol levels, improves night vision, rehabilitates damaged mucous membranes in the body (mainly gastrointestinal) and strengthens the immune system.
2 . Lycopene
Foods rich in lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, red pepper, radish and red grapefruit.
Lycopene also belongs to the carotenoid group, and is known mainly to protect against prostate cancer. In addition , it protects blood vessels and heart function, mainly due to its ability to prevent the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood vessel walls. Another role of lycopene is less known – protecting the skin by achieving a youthful appearance and preventing sun damage.
Foods rich in luteing: green leafy vegetables.
This is another member of the carotenoids group and is found mostly in green leaves. The leaves also contain phytochemical named chlorophyll, known to have many health benefits. Lutein has been linked primarily to treat and prevent vision and eye problems.
4. Vitamin C
Foods rich in vitamin C: citrus fruits, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruit, strawberries, peppers, papaya and many more. Berries are especially high in vitamin C.
A lot of things have been said about vitamin C. Here is just a partial list of the benefits of this antioxidant: strengthening the immune system, treating infections, treating respiratory problems and allergies, protecting against cancer, maintaining normal heart function, treating chronic stress, accelerating weight loss, treating arthritis and improving vision.
5 . Bioflavonoids
Foods rich in bioflavonoids: apple, onion, citrus fruits, pomegranate, green tea, blueberries and purple grapes.
Bioflavonoids are found primarily in foods that also contain vitamin C, and together they form a strong and stable structure of antioxidants that are good for strengthening the immune system, treating respiratory problems, treating allergies and infections, preventing cancer, treating inflammatory diseases and prevent heart disease.
6 . Vitamin E
Foods rich in vitamin E: vitamin E is found in many foods such as whole wheat, eggs and fish, but the main concentration is found in vegetable oils such as olive oil, wheat germ, avocados, seeds and various nuts .
The main function of vitamin E is treating cardiovascular diseases: vitamin E reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels, is a natural blood thinner and reduces the risk of stroke. In addition, it helps to treat nerve problems, prevent cancer, improve lung function, relieve arthritis pain and symptoms associated with menopause and strengthening the immune system .
Foods rich in selenium: Brazil nuts.
Selenium is another antioxidant which is the best mineral to treat heart problems. It helps the body prevent cancer and other autoimmune diseases, it is anti-inflammatory and helps in detoxification of toxic metals that are accumulated in our body and improves the functioning of the pancreas. Excess of selenium is considered toxic, so the recommendation is to consume no more than 2-3 Brazil nuts a day.
8. Coenzyme Q10
How to get it: dietary supplement. Coenzyme Q10 is naturally produced in our body, but over the years its production decreases. It is found in foods like fish, meat, eggs and beans in very small quantities, so it is recommended to consume it as a supplement .
This antioxidant strengthens the immune system, treats high blood pressure, helps to balance diabetes, helps in weight loss ,cancer prevention and treatment of chronic fatigue. Another key role is strengthening the heart muscle and preventing muscle pain, which are known side effects if you are treated with statins. In case of taking dietary supplements you should consult with your doctor first.
9. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Foods rich in alpha lipoic acid: yeast, broccoli, spinach and potatoes.
This is a less known antioxidant but it has a very important role: this acid encourages the body to convert food energy more efficiently, thus preventing food to be stored as fat. In addition, it has an effective role in getting rid of toxins from the body, strengthening the immune system and also helps diabetics – it helps to balance blood sugar levels and prevents damage to the eyes as well as nerve damage which are known side effects of diabetes.