Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Antioxidant Overview Of Super Foods

By Oscar Mills

Food provides us with naturally occurring antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that shelter the body and the immune system from dangerous molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are unsound molecules that take place as a consequence of oxidative processes such as the burning of sugars for energy, the release of digestive enzymes to break down food and the dispensation of environmental pollutants.

A "free radical" is an atom or a molecule that has at least one unpaired electron. This unpaired electron is exceedingly unstable and it is especially reactive to other atoms and groups of atoms, which leads to an interfering of the cells ability to function naturally. Free radicals can also cause cell damage, which is thought to be a leading factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other conditions, along with age-related ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Antioxidants work by matching up with the unpaired electron thereby neutralizing the free radical. Antioxidants can also avoid the oxidation in the first place. In this course of neutralization the antioxidant will become oxidized itself so therefore antioxidants need to be constantly replaced. Preventing destruction from oxidation is vital, however, preventing oxidation entirely is not likely because oxidation is a innate process of living and it cannot be avoided.

Common foods that we eat everyday offer us with antioxidants. Vitamin C comes from citrus fruits and strawberries. Vitamin A and carotenoids are found in pumpkin, butternut squash and other deep orange foods. Vitamin is found in nuts, seed and whole grains. Selenium comes from eggs, chicken, red meat, fish and shellfish. An assortment of phytochemicals including flavonoids and polyphenols can be found in soy, red wine, grapes, cranberries and green tea. Lycopene is from tomatoes and watermelon and Lutein comes from deep green vegetables like spinach and kale. Lignan can be found in whole grains like oats and barley and additionally in flaxseeds.

There are also vitamin like antioxidants including Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Glutathione and antioxidant enzymes made by the body including superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

Because of the widespread proof from the past few years about the benefits of antioxidants, many antioxidants are now accessible in supplement form. These supplements range from relatively safe, such as vitamin C tablets to outright hazardous. No single antioxidant is beneficial to the body as the value comes from the synergy between the nutrients.

So the most excellent way to get your antioxidants is by consuming a diet of healthy, healthy food with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish. It is suggested that we consume at least 5 or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables and more may even be better. After all most fruits and vegetables are lower calorie and nutrient dense and there is no threat from consuming your antioxidants via food as opposed to supplements.

You can often reveal the antioxidant level of a fruit based upon its color. The deep colors of nature provide the highest levels of antioxidants. So have deep purple blueberries, bright red tomatoes, deep green kale and spinach, orange oranges and pumpkins. The more colors you eat the higher your antioxidant intake will be.

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