When reading articles about health and nutrition we often hear about anti-oxidants but often I find people don't actually know what they are or why they are important for our bodies to maintain healthy.
In this post I am going to explain what anti-oxidants are, why they are beneficial for us and what foods are rich in them.
What Are Anti-oxidants?
Anti-oxidants can be both enzymes and nutrients which help to fight oxidation. Oxidation, is the process of free radicals damaging our cells, therefore weakening our immune systems and can then lead to degenerative diseases.
There are different anti-oxidants which work in different ways to support our immune system. Certain protein enzymes can work to fight of the oxidation process as well as vitamins and minerals. Many vitamins are also anti-oxidants for example vitamin C found in Camu Camu andВ raw Cacao products. This may be why researchers suggest that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Why are Anti-oxidants Beneficial For us?
As I mentioned already free radicals can attack our cells and deplete our immune system and this is where anti-oxidants are so crucial as they help prevent this therefore keeping us healthy and able to fight of illnesses. Anti-oxidants basically;
- Boost our immune systems
- Decrease the risks of many life threatening diseases and conditions
- Diminish the risk of falling ill due to physical strain.
- Aid the slowing down and reversing of the aging process.
Anti-oxidants are specifically important as we get older this is due to the fact that as we age our bodies have less ability to cope with free radical damage so we need to help our bodies as much as possible by insuring we have a diet that is rich in anti-oxidants.
How Do We Get Adequate Anti-Oxidants?
Ensuring we get enough anti-oxidants is done through diet. There are many foods which are rich in anti-oxidants and will help us to live a healthy life. We can find anti-oxidants in a wide variety of foodsВ some meats, fish and poultry contain high levels of anti-oxidants, but the main source of anti- oxidants is through vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains.
Anti-oxidants are a form of different vitamins and minerals the main ones being;
VITAMIN C which we can find in kiwi and citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes, and is in one of its highest forms in Camu Camu as well as being found in Cacao powder. It is known for helping to fight the common cold but furthermore it is hugely beneficial in helping detoxification in our bodies, promoting healing of all of our cells, and enabling us to cope better with stress. A vital role in health played by vitamin C is how it supports good bacteria in our gut, which is essential for health.
VITAMIN E is a vitamin that is known for being extremely beneficial for our skin and is found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and is abundant in Cacao butter. Not only is it great for restoring dry skin and hair to health but it is vital for cardiovascular health and supports the respiratory and circulatory system.
The CAROTENOIDS are also powerful anti-oxidants and the better known one from this group is probably beta-carotene, and can be found in foods in such as, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, squash as well as spirulina and goji berries. Beta carotene is believed to be helpful in;
- Prevention of cancer and heart disease
- Slowing down the development of cataracts
- Prevention of macular degeneration
- Protecting our skin against the sun.
- Easing asthma, psoriasis, and arthritis.
SELENIUM is another vital anti-oxidant which plays an essential role in supporting our immune system and is found in foods such as sunflower seeds, certain fish, brazil nuts and goji berries. It is believed to play a role in cancer prevention, as well as cardiovascular disease prevention. This trace mineral is depleted in the soil in New Zealand therefore it is important to make sure you are eating foods which will provide you with it.
Finally as you can see anti-oxidants are crucial to maintain health and to ensure you slow down the aging process and give yourself the best chance at living a healthy and vibrant life so be sure to eat foods that are rich in anti-oxidants. The highest levels being found in berries, cacao, and fruits and vegetables that are rich in colour. So during the festive season be kind to yourself and eat a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday and enjoy!