What are Antioxidants? + 6 Important Antioxidant Nutrients
You've heard of them. You know they're a good thing. And you've probably even seen them added to things such as your daily skin cream or perhaps your favorite can of hard seltzer.
So you've gone as far as rubbing them all over your face or chugging them down on a fun night out...
...but what actually are they?
Free radicals have the potential to damage our bodily cells and tissues; and if the body is unable to regulate them, a condition known as "oxidative stress" can occur.
Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in diseases such cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
ANTIOXIDANTS COMBAT THIS PROCESS by destroying reactive oxygen molecules before they can do excessive cellular harm to our bodies!
So what can you do to obtain enough of these super nutrients?
The best way to ensure you’re consuming a proper amount of antioxidants is simply by eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods!
Six Important Antioxidant Nutrients include:
Zinc is an essential trace mineral needed by hundreds of enzymes in the body to help perform crucial chemical reactions which keep us alive and well. Zinc specifically helps protect us from free-radical damage through its function with the enzyme "superoxide dismutase", a free-radical scavenger which defends the body against oxidative stress.
Example food sources: red meat, seafood, pork, lamb, beans, pumpkin seeds
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin known to protect our cell membranes and tissue linings by neutralizing harmful free radicals. Through its antioxidants abilities, this vitamin is able to protect the body from irritants such as smoke and other pollutants, and may even be helpful in preventing problems such as ulcers and atherosclerosis.
Example food sources: beef liver, egg yolks, carrots, dairy, mustard greens
There are nearly 600 known carotenoids, of which beta-carotene and around 50 others can be converted to vitamin A in the body. However, the other ~550 carotenoids which do not get converted still serve a great purpose, as they circulate in the blood and reach tissues where they also function as antioxidants! Beta-carotene, as well as the hundreds of other carotenoid phytonutrients, play a role in protecting cell membranes from damage by free radicals.
Example food sources: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, leafy greens, apricots
4. Vitamin C