Wednesday, February 22, 2012
different types of antioxidants
What we cover in this issue ? Antioxidants For Your Body How To Take Care Of Your Heart Love What You Do Managing Your Blood Pressure Striking The Perfect Work-Life Balance Antioxidants For Your Body We have all heard of the term antioxidants from dieticians, nutritionists, doctors and celebrities wherever being healthy is discussed. However, while we all want to include antioxidants in our diet, not many know the exact significance of what they are and how they benefit the human body. Let’s talk about all that one needs to know about antioxidants and how they benefit the human body. So, what exactly are antioxidants? The name ‘antioxidants’ implies that these substances work against (anti) oxidants. So in order to understand antioxidants, we first need to know what oxidants are and why the body needs to fight them. What is oxidation? When the body’s cells use oxygen for their daily processes, substances called free radicals are formed as a result of these chemical reactions. These free radicals are atoms or molecules that are unstable because of an excess or deficiency of electrons. In order to stabilize themselves, these free radicals donate or grab electrons wherever possible, causing damage to existing structures of the body’s cells, DNA and proteins. This process is known as oxidation, and can be visibly seen in the browning of a cut apple or the rusting of iron when left exposed to the elements. Over a period of time, damaged cells accumulate in the body leading to diseases ranging from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to strokes, heart disease and arthritis. How can we prevent the development of oxidants in the body? Damage that occurs due to free radicals cannot be avoided since these oxidants are caused naturally as a result of the body’s normal processes like respiration, inflammation and metabolism. They are also contributed by external factors like smoking, drinking, strenuous exercise, and exposure to pollution, sunlight and x-rays. While the body does produce some antioxidants on its own, these are not enough to combat the destructive effects of free radicals over a long period of time, leading to an accumulation of damaged cells and molecules in the body. What are antioxidants and why do we need them? Substances that can counteract or stop the effect of oxidation in the body are known as antioxidants. Antioxidants work to neutralize the effects of free radicals by stabilizing or scavenging free radicals, thus preventing cell oxidation and damage. In doing so, antioxidants reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and cataracts, and strengthen the immune system. They are also known to slow down the aging process. However, since antioxidants themselves get oxidized in the process, the body needs a constant supply of antioxidants in order to prevent itself from oxidative damage. What are the different types of antioxidants and what is the best way to consume them? Antioxidants are found in the form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other compounds like uric acid and phytochemicals etcetera. While most antioxidants are available as nutritional supplements, research proves that real and assured benefits of antioxidants can be obtained only when they are consumed in their naturally occurring form in cereals, fruits, vegetables and animal products. In fact, taking antioxidant supplements unjustifiably can even lead to harming the body rather than making it healthy. Given below is a list of common antioxidants and their natural sources. Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene: Carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, peppers, papaya, spinach, squash and apricots. Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries. Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, seeds, liver and leafy green vegetables. Allyl Sulfides: Garlic, onions, chives and leeks. Carotenoids:Carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach and kale. Curcumin: Turmeric. Flavonoids: Pomegranate, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapefruit, apples, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries. Glutathione: Green leafy vegetables. Indoles: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy. Isoflavones:Legumes. Isothiocyanates: Cauliflower, cabbage, raspberries, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. Lignans: Oatmeal, rye, barley, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Lutein: Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli. Lycopene: Tomato, watermelon and grapefruit. Monoterpenes: Nuts and cherries. Phytic Acid: Legumes and whole grains. Phenols: Tea, strawberries, grapes, grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, blackberries and raspberries. Saponins: Legumes and beans. Selenium: Seafood, red meat, eggs, chicken, garlic and whole grains. Including at least 5 to 6 servings of the above mentioned foods in your daily diet will provide you with the antioxidants required to keep your body healthy, young and fit.