The Health Benefits of Antioxidants

assorted berries

You may have heard a lot about antioxidants in conjunction with good health and avoiding diseases. Antioxidants have gotten great press, and rightfully so. But how do they work once inside our bodies, and what are some sources of antioxidants?

Have you ever seen the bottom-feeder fish in a fish-tank, sucking up all the gunk and grime? Think of antioxidants as molecular-sized, “free radical scavengers” in the fish-tank of your body.

Once an antioxidant finds its way into the body, mostly through the foods we eat, it slows down, or even prevents, the oxidation of other molecules. When molecules in the body oxidize, they can create free-radicals, or cellular byproducts. It is very normal to have these free-radicals in the body, but in excess, they can wreak havoc on our cellular structures.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals create a destructive process in our cells, causing the molecules within the cells to become unstable. They may even be a big player in the formation of cancerous cells by a “chain-reaction” effect, causing other cells to become damaged. Because of the inherent instability of free-radicals, they try to attack other healthy cells to get stable themselves. This causes the once-healthy cells to react in the same way, attacking others in an never-ending attempt for cellular stability.

Benefits of Antioxidants

In layman’s terms, free-radicals are bullies that start pushing everybody around, and encourage nice cells to become bullies as well. Just like most conflicts, the results are “free radical waste products” made up of our broken, injured and deformed cells. If our cells are weak, it is natural that our organs, tissues and skin of the body will likewise become weakened.

As you can imagine, oxidative damage plays a huge role in many of our modern-day diseases [1], such as muscle and tissue degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, as well as many other health problems. You are exposed to free radicals as a normal bi-product of regular bodily processes, like breaking down the food we eat, taking toxic medicines, as well as through exposure to pollutants. In addition, over-exposure to the sun (sunburn) and smoking can also increase your body’s need to oxidize and create free-radicals. Antioxidants stop this cellular chain reaction of oxidation by neutralizing the free radicals.

Many plants and animals keep large amounts of antioxidants on hand, due to their role in counteracting cell damage, as well as their ability to repair damaged cells. Studies have shown that antioxidants can play a role in reducing the cell-damage of free radicals [2].

Moreover, the National Cancer Institute has stated that preliminary research in lab animals has shown that “antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer [3].” Many experts feel that increased antioxidants in the body can also help slow the process of aging, and may even increase longevity.

How can you get more of these antioxidants into your body?

The secret to consuming more antioxidants is simple: Eat more organic fresh fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants in Food

The simplest and most effective way to expose yourself to more antioxidants is through your diet. By incorporating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day into your diet, you may be helping your body reduce its chances of heart disease, neurological diseases, cancer and lowered immunity.

Studies show that it is more effective to get antioxidants through diet, as opposed to taking supplements. So, enjoy eating a variety of these fruits and veggies daily!

Foods High In Antioxidants

The following is my short-list for antioxidant-rich Foods. Try to incorporate as many as possible into your daily diet. Remember, organic, raw, fresh and local is always best:

  • Corn
  • Lime
  • Kale
  • Lemon
  • Dates
  • Chiles
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Prunes
  • Mangos
  • Squash
  • Millet
  • Almonds
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Oregano
  • Spinach
  • Apricots
  • Broccoli
  • Cinnamon
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Artichoke
  • Green Tea
  • Pineapple
  • Red Beets
  • Goji Berries
  • Acai Berry
  • Coconut Oil
  • Pinto Beans
  • Broad Beans
  • Wheat Germ
  • Pomegranates
  • Hempseed Oil
  • Barley & Rye
  • Black Currant
  • Blood Oranges
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Raw Nuts & Seeds
  • Whole Grain Brown Rice

3 Supplements High in Antioxidants

I use the following three supplements on a daily basis and would highly recommend them to anybody looking to supplement their diet with antioxidants.

  • Intramax – 100% Organic Liquid Multi-Vitamin
  • Megahydrate – Powerful Antioxidant supplement
  • E3 Live – 100% Organic Live Blue-Green Algae

Below is an abstract of a scientific study about the benefits of antioxidants. I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

Measurement of antioxidant activity using biologically relevant assays is important in the screening of fruits for potential health benefits. The cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) assay quantifies antioxidant activity in cell culture and was developed to meet the need for a more biologically representative method than the popular chemistry antioxidant capacity measures.

The objective of the study was to determine the cellular antioxidant activity, total phenolic contents, and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values of 25 fruits commonly consumed in the United States. Pomegranate and berries (wild blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry) had the highest CAA values, whereas banana and melons had the lowest. Apples were found to be the largest contributors of fruit phenolics to the American diet, and apple and strawberries were the biggest suppliers of cellular antioxidant activity. Increasing fruit consumption is a logical strategy to increase antioxidant intake and decrease oxidative stress and may lead to reduced risk of cancer.

Read More About This Study [4]

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Dean P. Jones. Redefining oxidative stress. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 2006 September 20. 8(9-10): 1865-1879. doi:10.1089/ars.2006.8.1865.
  2. Haleem MA, Barton KL, Borges G, Crozier A, Anderson AS. Increasing antioxidant intake from fruits and vegetables: practical strategies for the Scottish population. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2008 Dec;21(6):539-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2008.00906.x. Epub 2008 Aug 27.
  3. National Institutes of Health. Antioxidants and cancer prevention: fact sheet. National Cancer Institute. 2004 July 28.
  4. Kelly L. Wolfe, Xinmei Kang, Xiangjiu He, Mei Dong, Qingyuan Zhang, Rui Hai Liu. Cellular Antioxidant Activity of Common Fruits. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2008 August 30. 56 (18), pp 8418–8426
    DOI: 10.1021/jf801381y.

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  • Peter

    Doctors are confirming optimum ways to peak performance.
    Did you know glutathione is the most powerful, prevalent antioxidant in your body?
    However after the age of twenty the production of this essential antioxidant slows down.

  • Henry Johnson

    This is a very useful information, I really like what you are thinking and this makes me more curious on what should I do next! thanks for the nice post!

  • Jaci Struwe

    Another relatively unknown but incredibly powerful antioxidant is Protandim. I think over the next several years U.S. consumers are going to embrace it in a big way.
    Your blog has some wonderful and useful information. Great work!

  • JohnP

    The simplest ways are often best, and the five a day rule is a simple goal to have. Your article does a great job of explaining the reasons behind the rule. Thanks.

  • maria

    cool… info.. tips.. about antioxidant antiaging….
    i like it tnx… i have here also a site that related to ur topic… its also discuss about antioxidant antiaging…. check it out…
    tnx…

  • lucy barlow

    I enjoyed reading your article! You write with great insight and we share many similar ideas. Thanks and take care, Lucy Barlow

  • Nita

    What about cinnamon, I’ve been hearing about it often as being high in antioxidants.

  • Ian

    Your post was very informative and I really enjoyed it. I hope
    you don’t mind me sharing a quote from my related blog post that
    I just put up this week…

    Antioxidants are in no way harmful to the skin and not only can they protect the skin from damage but they have been to shown to actually reverse some of the damage that has already occurred to the skin of many people.

    Ian

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-antioxidants/ keith

    i really agree about antioxidants, ive heard about curcumin which has a 159,000 orac value or atioxidants capacity and goji is just 25,000

  • alfonso

    you correct curcumins ORAC value is 159,000 it’s amplified 10x by pipperin. with a total of 1.5millions far away from any other supplement my product is PiCur.

  • Aaron

    It’s nice that you didn’t mentiion CACAO beans, the food that contains the highest number of antioxidants on earth as we know it.

  • Brina

    um… it is not possible to swallow cinnamon… if you dont believe me try it. swallow a whole teaspoon of cinnamon, lol

  • Matt

    If you mix whiskey with cinnamon you can then swallow it, no problem!!

  • Melissa Anderson

    The are tremendous benefits from all the fruits, Veggies having antioxidants properties – giving good attention to the intake of foods we consume daily, and combining some of above mentioned foods not only ensure that we are getting good nutrients values but also make our immune system strong.

  • meh

    In oppose to ” smoking can also increase your body’s need to oxidize and create
    free-radicals. Antioxidants stop this cellular chain reaction of
    oxidation by neutralizing the free radicals.” , I found another study that smokers is at a higher stake of developing lung cancer if they consume antioxidant supplement such as beta-carotene.
    ” few studies, though, have raised the possibility that taking
    antioxidant supplements, either single agents or combinations, could
    interfere with health. The first inkling came in a large trial of
    beta-carotene conducted among men in Finland who were heavy smokers, and
    therefore at high risk for developing lung cancer. The trial was
    stopped early when researchers saw a significant increase in lung cancer
    among those taking the supplement compared to those taking the placebo.
    (15)
    In another trial among heavy smokers and people exposed to asbestos,
    beta-carotene was combined with vitamin A. Again an increase in lung
    cancer was seen in the supplement group. (16)
    Not all trials of beta-carotene show this harmful effect, however. In
    the Physicians’ Health Study, which included few active smokers, no
    increase in lung cancer or any other adverse affect was seen even after
    18 years of follow-up. (6)
    “.

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