Quantcast
Food

Why Antioxidants in Superfoods Are Essential to Your Diet

You hear about antioxidants all the time when you're reading about great, healthy superfoods. They all have them. But what is an antioxidant and what does it do?

Here's a good basic explanation, a sort of "Science of Antioxidants 101." To boil it down to even simpler terms, atoms, which hook up to form molecules, contain neutrons, protons and electrons. If an electron is lost, it forms a free radical, which can damage a molecule and that damaged molecule can, in turn, damage others, triggering a disease reaction. Electrons are being lost all the time during metabolism, which could cause a lot of harm to our bodies—except that antioxidants step in and replace some of those electrons. So we really need to be getting some antioxidants in our diet.

Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, especially organic blueberries like these.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

We also need some free radicals in our body but an excess of them throws things out of balance. The list of things that can cause this imbalance probably won't surprise you. At the top of the list are environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and pesticides. Alcohol is another trigger, along with infections, high blood sugar levels, too much sun exposure and even too much exercise. We can also throw the balance off by over-consuming certain vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The result can be heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases, and a deterioration in overall health.

Naturally then, you're going to want to consume things that are rich in antioxidants like flavanoids, vitamin C and vitamin E. That's going to be primarily plant-based foods, along with green tea, coffee and—you'll be happy to hear—dark chocolate.

What are some of the plant foods you should include in your diet? Berries are a big winner. All kinds of berries are a great source of antioxidants including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries. Beans, especially pinto beans and red beans, are also rich in antioxidants. Apples, plums, grapes, cherries, potatoes, green vegetables, whole grains and pecans also rank high on the list.

But don't rely on a single favorite food. Different antioxidants work in different ways and we need a variety of them. That's why nature-created complex compounds found in good-for-you foods are always going to be a better choice than supplements.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

8 Superfoods You Should Eat This Fall

7 Surprisingly Affordable Superfoods

Why Coffee Is Good for You

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Scott Pruitt speaking at meeting at the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan. 17. Lance Cheung / USDA

Breaking: Sierra Club Demands Pruitt’s Emails After Only 1 Disclosed by EPA

As part of ongoing litigation, the Sierra Club has demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) search Scott Pruitt's personal email accounts for work-related emails, or certify clearly and definitively that the administrator has never used personal email for work purposes. The demand comes on the heels of a successfully litigated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's email and other communications with all persons and parties outside the executive branch. These facts were first reported in Politico early this morning.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Iceland Flouts Global Ban to Slaughter First Protected Fin Whale of New Hunting Season

Iceland's multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf have resumed their slaughter of endangered fin whales in blunt defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling.

The hunt is Iceland's first in three years and marks the start of a whaling season that could see as many as 239 of these majestic creatures killed.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Life- Trac / CC BY-SA 3.0

Farm Bill With Huge Giveaways to Pesticide Industry Passes House

A farm bill that opponents say would harm endangered species, land conservation efforts, small-scale farmers and food-stamp recipients passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211, with every House Democrat and 20 Republicans voting against it, The Center for Biological Diversity reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!