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Antioxidants: What you need to know

Antioxidants: What you need to know | Well Squared

You’ve probably heard of the buzz word “antioxidant” before, but what actually are they? What do they do? Where can you get them from? Scroll to find out.

Antioxidants are molecules that help stop or limit damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species), are unstable molecules responsible for cell damage. These free radicals are constantly being formed in your body naturally and their production can be promoted by lifestyle and environmental factors including:

Smoking
Alcohol intake
Pollution
High blood sugar levels
Radiation
Lack of sleep and stress


Prolonged exposure to oxidative stress can lead to an increased risk in cardiovascular disease and cancer. As bad as free radicals might sound, it’s not all doom and gloom. Your body’s immune cells actually use free radicals to combat infections.

Where can I get antioxidants?

Common antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, E and nutrients such as Selenium and Manganese. Interestingly, plant-based foods contain more antioxidants than non-plant foods. Here’s a short list on some good sources:


Berries - strawberries, cranberries, blueberries.
Nuts - Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans.
Wholemeal foods - pasta, bread, rice.
Herbs and spices - cinnamon, thyme, cloves.
Drinks including green tea and coffee.


As important as they are, there’s little evidence to suggest antioxidants alone prevent chronic disease. Eating a balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables is arguably the best way to get your daily source of antioxidants.
 

  

Dr Zobir Alexander | Well Squared
Dr Zobir Alexander, MB ChB, BSc (Hons) - Senior Writer

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