Understanding Antioxidants

Berries are full of antioxidants: goji berries, raspberries, blueberries

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants include vitamins, trace elements and micro-nutrients found naturally in our diet. They are also synthesized by our body.

They are mainly known for their ability to fight free radicals. In a previous post, we explained what free radicals are and what they do. They are inevitable and necessary in some ways, but become problematic when there are too many in our body. In particular,  external factors such as pollution, tobacco or the sun's UV rays contribute greatly to an excess of free radicals. This can then lead to premature aging, and the development of certain diseases.

Antioxidants are crucial to keep free radicals under control and help maintain good health.

Where can we find them?

There are two ways our body can obtain antioxidants: by manufacturing its own or through diet.

Examples of antioxidants that our body produces:

Glutathione, many enzymes, uric acid, melatonin, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and more.

As we age, our body's natural ability to produce antioxidants can decline. This is why it is important to maintain a good balanced diet, rich in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are present in many foods that we consume daily, mainly in plants. Therefore a diet that includes lots of fresh fruits, and vegetables (preferably cooked at low temperature), is beneficial to our overall health.

Here are the different categories and where to find them:

Vitamines A, E, C

A, found in liver, tuna, butter, cheeses, eggs and dairy
E, found in vegetable oils, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, broccoli, spinach, avocado, asparagus, shrimps and crab
C, abundant in citruses (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit), blackcurrant, strawberries, melon, parsley, kiwi, bell peppers and broccoli

Carotenoids

Beta-carotene found in carrots, apricots, bell peppers, and orange.  Spinach and parsley are also a good source.
Lycopenes give their red color to tomatoes. They are also present in papaya, apricots, guava and melon
Lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in a lot of orange fruits. They are also in broccoli, spinach, green cabbage, corn, red pepper, green peas, persimmon, turnip, lettuce, and zucchini

Polyphenols

Phenolic acids, found in coffee and fruits
Flavonoids, found in dark chocolate, vegetables (such as leak, endive, parsley, cabbage, lettuce), fruits (orange, cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberries), grape seed oil, tea, red wine
Tanins, found in lentils, tea, grapes, and of course red wine

Trace minerals

Selenium is in fish, eggs, meat
Zinc is in seafood, meat, wholemeal bread, legumes,  nuts and seeds

What do they do?

When the body's production of free radicals is greater than its self-defense capacity, the body is under oxidative stress. This causes damage to the cells and contributes to premature aging and the development of certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and neuro-degenerative diseases.

Fortunately antioxidants have the ability to turn free radicals into harmless molecules.

They have an extra electron they can donate to free radicals that are lacking one. By giving them their extra electron, they neutralize them before they can oxidize other cell parts. Once the electrons of the free radical are paired, it becomes stable and non-toxic to cells. This is how antioxidants are able to keep free radicals under control, therefore limiting the damage of oxidation in our bodies.

Antioxidants restore a balance with free radicals but do not completely eliminate them. As a matter of fact, too few oxidation reactions and too few free radicals are not beneficial to our health. like most things in life, it is a matter of balance and moderation. You can read more about this in our previous post "Understanding Free Radicals".

Benefits of Antioxidants

We saw earlier that they help protect our body against free radicals and thus, many diseases.
They can help:

  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They also prevent the oxidation of fats that can be harmful to the blood vessels.
  • Protect the eyes: all antioxidant molecules contribute to healthy eyes and vision. The most important are carotenoids, especially lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin (all present in VISTASAFFRON in the right dosages and proportion)
  • Counter the effects of pollution: in the air we breathe there can be a lot of harmful free radicals such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone. These can lead to breathing problems. Some antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene can help our body fight against them.
  • Delay aging: Free radicals are known to speed up skin aging. They do so by attacking the cell membranes. As a result, the skin deteriorates prematurely. But, again, antioxidants can help limit the damage, especially those found in green leafy vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, spinach), or in dark fruits (plums, raspberries, currants ...).

So you can see how important antioxidants are. This is why we packed our VISTASAFFRON formula with a lot of powerful antioxidant active ingredients.

 

To learn more about free radicals, read our previous post "Understand Free Radicals"