What Are The Health Benefits Of Antioxidants?

antioxidants are present in coffee, honey, etc. so read this article to know complete information of antioxidants.

All cells need oxygen to live and function properly. But is the same oxygen which can be responsible for damaging cells through a process known as oxidation. When oxidation occurs "free radicals" are formed with have the ability to damage cells. Free radicals are substances that contain unpaired electrons due to the fact they have either lost or gained an electron. Free radicals occur due to infection or inflammation, certain environmental conditions such as smoking or air pollution of exposure to pesticides and insecticides. When free radicals are allowed to do damage over prolonged periods of time they can lead to diseases such as cancer. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and sometimes enzymes which are used to reverse the affects of oxidation to some extent. In this article we are going to explore what antioxidants do, how they work to benefit us and what are some of the best sources of antioxidants.

Our bodies need a constant supply of antioxidants due to the fact that antioxidants are oxidized in order to work. With the increased popularity of cooking shows such as on Food Network many of us have seen chefs cut up a piece of fruit and put some lemon juice on it to keep it from turning brown. The change in color from white to brown is due to oxidation. With the antioxidant that the lemon juice contains the fruit does not turn brown but maintains its original color. This is basically how antioxidants that we get from the foods that we eat or from supplementation work to protect the cells in our bodies. An antioxidant works basically by neutralizing the free radicals that form as a result of oxidation.

When a free radical is formed during oxidation it exists in an unstable state. It has the tendency to release or absorb electrons from other living cells. Whenever an electron is released or absorbed another free radical is formed. This is why we need a constant supply of antioxidants to our bodies. The free radicals that where formed continue to do the same thing, thus forming a chain. If allowed to do this over an extended period of time it will end up damaging the living cells. When an antioxidant such as vitamin C or vitamin E is introduced they will convert the free radical in its unstable form to a more stable molecule. This process will break the chain of free radicals and stops the oxidation process. In the case of some antioxidant enzymes the process is a little different. Enzymes such as catalase and glutathione slow down the rate at which this free radical chain is formed. Once the free radicals that are already formed are stabilized the process of oxidation can be stopped. The mechanism of each antioxidant is specific only on certain types of free radicals. On other types of free radicals the same antioxidant may not be as affective.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. There are literally thousands of different antioxidants found in the foods that we eat and each has its own mechanism of neutralizing free radicals although they work as a team. Some of the more common and well known antioxidants we consume in our diets are vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene. These are often referred to as the anti-aging antioxidants due to the fact that they help provide us with youthful looking skin. Nutritionists emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diets because of there antioxidant properties. As the store of antioxidants in our bodies is used up neutralizing free radicals we need to constantly replenish them. Some people also receive antioxidants from nutritional supplements. The best food sources of antioxidants would be brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, red grapes, beets, carrots and tomatoes to name a few.
In conclusion, it is very important that we continually replenish the antioxidants in our bodies through proper diet and supplementation. We have mentioned the positive affects that they can have as far as aging but they also provide us with protection against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and arthritis.

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