Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals.
When free radicals accumulate, they may cause a state known as oxidative stress. This may damage your DNA and other important structures in your cells.
Sadly, chronic oxidative stress can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer (1Trusted Source).
Fortunately, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your blood antioxidant levels to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases.
Scientists use several tests to measure the antioxidant content of foods.
One of the best tests is the FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analysis. It measures the antioxidant content of foods by how well they can neutralize a specific free radical (2Trusted Source).
The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants the food contains. (source )
12 healthy foods that are high in antioxidants
- Dark Chocolate
- Goji berries
- Red cabbage
The power of antioxidants in your diet
One of the biggest culprits of cellular degradation is through the battle against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that contain an unpaired electron, often from the breakdown of larger molecular structures as well as the introduction of carcinogens in the blood and other common means. This unpaired electron can wreak havoc of our body’s cells as the molecule looks to steal electrons from our own body’s cells.
Free radicals float through the body from various sources and can cause problems with cellular degradation and regeneration, which ultimately creates longterm health issues such as premature aging, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, as free radicals are believed to play a significant role in their development.
So what is our greatest asset in the war on free radicals? Antioxidants. Antioxidants help clear the body of free radicals and bring balance to the unpaired cells to allow our bodies to better perform their routine cellular functions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, no single food type should be the source of all your antioxidants…
There are lots of healthy sources of food that contain antioxidants. Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc, contain various amounts of antioxidants. The trick is getting a sufficient amount on a regular basis. This is where supplements can help tremendously.
Spade Nutrition’s Superfoods blend contains over 50 pure ingredients that support good health through efficient and consistent delivery of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more to your body in one serving. Sources of antioxidants in the blend include plant-based, ocean-based, fungus-based, etc., ensuring sufficient variety for best effectiveness.
Antioxidants support the immune system
Diets contain naturally occurring antioxidant compounds that can stabilize highly reactive, potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are generated during normal cellular metabolism and result from the metabolism of certain drugs or xenobiotics. Exposure to UV light, cigarette smoke, and other environmental pollutants also increase the body’s free radical burden. The harmful activities of free radicals are associated with damage to membranes, enzymes, and DNA. The ability of antioxidants to destroy free radicals protects the structural integrity of cells and tissues. This review focuses on data indicating that the functions of the human immune system depend on the intake of micronutrients, which can act as antioxidants.
Recent clinical trials have found that antioxidant supplementation can significantly improve certain immune responses. Specifically, supplementation with vitamins C, E, and A or beta-carotene increased the activation of cells involved in tumor immunity in the elderly. Supplementation with the antioxidant vitamins also protected immune responses in individuals exposed to certain environmental sources of free radicals. Supplementation with vitamin A, a relatively weak antioxidant, decreases morbidity and mortality associated with measles infections in children. ( source )
The Bottom Line
Antioxidants are compounds that your body makes naturally. You can also get them from food.
They protect your body from potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can accumulate and promote oxidative stress. Unfortunately, oxidative stress raises the risk of heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.
Fortunately, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of these chronic diseases.
By eating a wide variety of the foods in this article, you can boost your blood levels of antioxidants and reap their many health benefits.