Antioxidants: what are they and where are they found?

4th June 2019
Surely you've heard about antioxidants and the benefits they can bring to the body. Now, do you know what they really do and their importance for the body?

A lot is said about antioxidants and their benefits, however, most people don’t know what they are and the effects that they have on the human body. This lack of knowledge may be due to the fact that it’s a complex topic. Don’t worry, we’ll explain all you need to know in a simple and clear manner.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to prevent the oxidation of other molecules. In order to understand this topic better, keep the following in mind:

  • Oxidation is a process in which a chemical reaction occurs while transferring electrons. Oxidation can cause an increase in free radicals, which are damaging to the body’s cells.
  • The presence of free radicals can be normal. In fact, they help to fight against bacteria and they play a role in muscle control. However, having too many free radicals can be damaging.

Therefore, antioxidants are responsible for suppressing the free radicals that remain. This causes free radicals to oxidize themselves. That’s why they’re essential for the proper functioning of many processes that are performed in the body.

Why are antioxidants important?

Hypothetically, if the body didn’t have antioxidants, serious cell damage would occur as well as DNA alterations. They are also important to help prevent accelerated aging, and diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.

Woman eating carrot

Issues arise when there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants. This can cause many problems for the body. The body produces more free radicals under the following circumstances:

That’s why it’s not uncommon to see people who don’t lead healthy and active lifestyles suffering from diseases at an early age. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that antioxidants are important in order to keep the body radiant, healthy and strong. 

This does not mean that free radicals should be completely eradicated since they also fulfill other important functions in the body. However, it’s advisable to try to prevent the excessive production of these molecules

Consumption

There are many options if you would like to ingest antioxidants. They even come in the form of supplements. It’s convenient to get them from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables.

There’s a wide variety of unprocessed foods that contain antioxidants that you can include in your diet in a simple manner. In addition, these foods are also rich in other vitamins that provide benefits to the body:

  • Strawberries: strawberries have a high concentration of antioxidants and they contain other vitamins that help the body raise its defenses. They also prevent cardiovascular diseases and reduce cholesterol.
Strawberries

  • Spinach: spinach is a great source of antioxidants and it also contains properties that fight cancer, prevent heart disease and delay aging. In addition to antioxidants, they contain lutein, which prevents eye diseases such as cataracts.
  • Cranberries: despite being a small fruit, one cup of cranberries contains approximately thirteen thousand antioxidants! They also include flavonoids, Vitamin A and C, quercetin, and anthocyanin.
  • Oranges: contain many antioxidants and an abundance of vitamin C. Therefore, they also help to prevent colds and infections.
  • Chocolate: chocolate contains a high concentration of antioxidants, even more than fruits. However, you should be careful about what chocolate you eat. They are found in dark chocolate or cocoa powder.

Take care of your body with antioxidants

It’s important to consume foods that contain antioxidants regularly, since they are necessary for taking care of the skin, organs, metabolism, immune system, and a wide array of other essential functions.

Taking care of your body doesn’t just depend on how many you consume, you’ll also have to lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes performing physical activity, avoiding junk food, resting enough and maintaining low levels of stress.

In conclusion, in order to prevent numerous diseases, conserve your physical aspect and maintain a good state of health, trust in antioxidants!

 

  • Laguna, J., Piña, E., Martínez, F., Pardo, J. y Riveros, H. (2006). Bioquímica de Laguna. México: El Manual Moderno.
  • Knight, J. (1998). Free radicals: Their history and current status in aging and disease. Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science28(6), 331–346.
  • Waterhouse, A. L., Shirley, J. R., & Donovan, J. L. (1996). Antioxidants in chocolate [20]. Lancet. Lancet Publishing Group. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)65262-2