Quantcast

Why Antioxidants in Superfoods Are Essential to Your Diet

Food

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less
The climate crisis often intensifies systems of oppression. Rieko Honma / Stone / Getty Images Plus

By Mara Dolan

We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.

Read More Show Less
Lana Del Rey: "call her Doris Doomsday." Darren Gerrish / BFC / Getty Images Entertainment

By Emer McHugh

Popular music has, and always will be, informed by the political and social contexts from which it emerges.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Naveena Sadasivam

It was early in the morning last Thursday, and Jonathan Butler was standing on the Fred Hartman Bridge, helping 11 fellow Greenpeace activists rappel down and suspend themselves over the Houston Ship Channel. The protesters dangled in the air most of the day, shutting down a part of one of the country's largest ports for oil.

Read More Show Less
We already have a realistic solution in the Green New Deal—we just lack the political will. JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT

By C.J. Polychroniou

Climate change is by far the most serious crisis facing the world today. At stake is the future of civilization as we know it. Yet, both public awareness and government action lag way behind what's needed to avert a climate change catastrophe. In the interview below, Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss the challenges ahead and what needs to be done.

Read More Show Less
FDA

Food manufacturer General Mills issued a voluntary recall of more than 600,000 pounds, or about 120,000 bags, of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour this week after a sample tested positive for a bacteria strain known to cause illness.

Read More Show Less