Human body has several mechanisms which protect from “damaged” (pollution, UV exposure, infections, allergens, waste substances such as free radicals and more). Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by negative factors. Some scientists call antioxidants “free-radical scavengers.” Antioxidants can fight oxidative stress which is linked to several dangerous diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema and Parkinson’s disease. Human body produces some amount of endogenous antioxidants which fight free radicals but unfortunately they decline with aging. Very effective can be plant-based natural antioxidants (phytonutrients) which can neutralize free radicals and boost overall health. Natural antioxidants can prevent and delay cell damages – they are able to protect cells from free radicals and harmful oxygen molecules (oxidative stress) which can trigger several diseases including cancer. Most known natural antioxidants are flavonoids, beta-carotene, resveratrol, lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E.
It is well known that human body needs oxygen for survival. At the same time, oxygen can also be specific catalyst for production of waste substances such as dangerous free radicals. Regular consumption of natural antioxidants could neutralize free radicals and prevent many diseases. Antioxidants ward off cell damage by removing waste reactive free radicals before they can do harm. Antioxidants are important part of body defense systems.
Natural antioxidants benefits
Trigger endogenous antioxidant production;
Prevention of cell damages (“cells cleaning”);
Repair of damaged cells and molecules;
Stimulate gene expression and body natural defense system (immune system);
Cancer prevention by triggering apoptosis (“cancer cells suicide”);
Block metal radical production and free radical formation.
Top 5 natural antioxidants – flavonoids
Flavonoids include large group of phytonutrients – they are powerful antioxidants. Almost all fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids and they are responsible for bright colors of fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are known as anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting antioxidants.
Flavonoids health benefits:
Anticancer ability in cases of breast, stomach, lung, mouth, colon and skin cancers – fighting free radicals, preventing cancer and triggering apoptosis (“cancer cells suicide”);
Longevity (slower aging) – controlling speed of aging, fighting free radicals, slowing down aging process, preventing several diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, senile dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, degenerative eye disease and cataracts;
Weight control (weight loss) – decreasing levels of appetite by suppressing “appetite hormone” (leptin);
Preventing cardiovascular disease – decreasing risks atherosclerosis through protecting LDL cholesterol from free radical damages, preventing blood clots, improving quality of blood vessel walls and providing anti-inflammatory actions;
Preventing neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) – increasing blood flow to brain, improving cognitive functions, decreasing risks of mentioned diseases by 50%, providing anti-inflammatory activities.
Flavonoids rich products – onions, black and green tea, dark chocolate, strawberries, kale, grapes, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruit, parsley and many spices. It is recommended to cut fruits and vegetables just before eating because often flavonoids are concentrated in skins and outer areas of fruits and vegetables.
Top 5 natural antioxidants – resveratrol
Resveratrol is well known active antioxidant which affects age regulated genes, allowing cells to live longer and reducing risks of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Everybody known so called “French paradox” described in 1990s. Scientists noted that French people have lower rates of heart attacks despite of French daily rich cuisine combined with regularly moderate drink of red wine. Research discovered high levels of active antioxidant resveratrol in red wine which protect cells from damage and prevent cardiovascular diseases. According to health experts, drinking moderate amount of wine one glass daily for women and one-two glasses daily for men could decrease heart disease.
Nervous system protection – fighting free radicals and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Resveratrol rich products – grapes, red wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, mulberries, cocoa, dark chocolate and some vegetables.
Top 5 natural antioxidants – beta-carotene
Beta-carotene (carotenoid and antioxidant) is yellow-reddish-orange pigment that gives certain vegetables and fruits specific rich colors (especially carrots and colorful vegetables). Beta-carotene was first isolated by German researcher Dr H. Wackenroder from carrot roots in 1831. Human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (so called “retinol”) which is crucial for healthy skin, mucus membranes, immune system, healthy eyes and good vision.
Beta-carotene health benefits:
Eye diseases prevention – protecting eyes from cataracts, macular degeneration and blindness;
Decrease risks of cancer and heart disease – eliminating free radicals;
Chronic illnesses prevention – inhibiting cells oxidation (preventing oxidative stress) and protecting from free radicals;
Improvement of brain functions – activating blood flow to brain and slowing cognitive decline;
Slowing down aging;
Supporting immune system;
Strengthening of male fertility – improving sperm count and sperm activity;
Protecting from ultraviolet radiation and sunburn;
Stabilizing blood sugar;
Relieving indigestion and reflux.
Beta-carotene rich products – carrots, apricot, asparagus, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, guava, Chinese cabbage, chives, grapefruit, kale, mango, pumpkin, red bell pepper, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, onion, plum, squash and watermelon.
Top 5 natural antioxidants – Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for several body functions. Human body cannot produce vitamin C – it can be consumed with several fruits and vegetables including oranges, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and spinach. Vitamin C is pretty strong antioxidant – it is able to fight free radicals, battle oxidative stress, protect vital body elements (proteins, lipids), maintain specific electron flow in cells and support collagen synthesis.
Vitamin C health benefits:
Boost immune system – encouraging production of white blood cells (lymphocytes, phagocytes) and strengthening white blood cells functions;
Strengthen skin defense system – boosting skin barriers and supporting wounds heal faster;
Reduce risks of chronic diseases – strengthening immune system and preventing oxidative stress (battle oxidation);
Prevent heart diseases and battle increased blood pressure – reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, controlling blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and relaxing blood vessels from heart;
Reduce risks of iron deficiency – improving iron absorption;
Reduce risks of memory and thinking disorders such as dementia – preventing oxidative stress and inflammation in central nervous system (brain, spine, nerves).
Vitamin C-rich foods – bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, papaya, chili peppers and pineapple.
Top 5 natural antioxidants – licopene
Lycopene is well known anticancer antioxidant with several health benefits. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants with ability to prevent and fight diseases. Licopene is produced by plants as a defense against environmental damage (pests, toxins, UV damage) and as pretty strong antioxidant fighting free radicals.
Licopene health benefits:
Anticancer activity – preventing and slowing several types of cancer,
Promote eye health – protecting eyes from oxidative stress that causes most common eye diseases and preventing age-related macular degeneration;
Prevent some neurological pathology including Alzheimer’s disease and epileptic seizures – correcting cell corruption, protecting healthy cells and repairing neural destruction in the brain from past seizures;
Prevent several cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease, myocardial ischemia, atherosclerosis) and reduce high blood pressure – reducing blood flow to the heart caused by arterial blockages;
Keep bones strong – relieving oxidative stress in bones that cause brittle and weak bone structure and slowing apoptosis (cell death) that causes weaken bones;
Protect from damage induced by pesticides – protecting liver from common corruption by dichlorvos and adrenal cortex from destruction.
Lycopene rich foods – most commonly found in tomatoes but can be found also in asparagus, red cabbage, carrots, watermelon, grapefruit, mango, guavas and papaya.
Vitamin D is essential for optimal health. It is very important vital vitamin responsible for several promoting health functions largely by promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D…
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.