Antioxidants are essential elements for our body to keep away diseases and to be able to stay healthy. Some foods turn out to be very good antioxidants, but you still need to know which ones. We’re taking stock.
Antioxidants and Their Benefits
To better understand what antioxidants are used for, it is first necessary to look a little at the functioning of our metabolism. Without going into details, our cells are alive and activate to ensure the proper functioning of our organism and keep us healthy.
Just like us, our cells breathe through an oxygen supply. This breathing allows them to have the energy necessary to perform their tasks. But through various chemical reactions with oxygen (including oxidation), waste is naturally produced by our cells in the course of their activity. These wastes are called free radicals. They are therefore naturally present in our body and testify to its proper functioning.
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These free radicals are unstable. This is why our body naturally produces antioxidants, in the form of enzymes or proteins, to fight and eliminate them. But it happens that free radicals are outnumbered and take over these natural defenses. They can then attack our metabolism: our DNA, our cell membranes, etc. This is called “oxidative stress”. In the long term, they can be the consequence of premature aging of the skin and promote the accumulation of cholesterol. They can also lead to more serious diseases such as cancer, cataracts, age-related degenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s) and cardiovascular diseases (infarction).
The proliferation of these wastes can also be fueled by factors outside the body. Pollution, cigarette, alcohol, UV rays, pesticides. These are so many agents that can accelerate the production of free radicals and alter our health.
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If the environment can have harmful effects, it can also have its lot of antioxidant virtues. Nature is well made because it offers us something to fight against this imbalance, and this includes food. Many foods have many benefits for our body, including getting rid of free radicals, thus allowing to restore a certain balance and limit the risk of cancers.
We could almost talk about a makeover, because fighting against oxidative stress helps fight against aging and all the diseases that are related to it. It is important to monitor your diet to make the most of all these antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants are naturally present in a number of foods. Others have the role of stimulating our body to produce more. The result remains the same: the body has more antioxidants to combat excess free radicals.
Here are some naturally antioxidant elements:
This vitamin is particularly good for the skin since in addition to fighting against its aging by being antioxidant, its role in the composition of the cell membrane also allows to maintain all the elasticity of the skin.
Oilseeds (and their oils) such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are particularly rich in vitamins E, as are wheat bran, avocado and sardines.
Vitamin C is surely the best known of vitamins. Excellent for the immune system, it is also very effective against free radicals.
Exotic fruits, such as papaya or kiwi, and citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges or lemon are known to be rich in vitamins C. on the vegetable side, peppers, broccoli, cabbage (especially Brussels sprouts) and spinach are ideal to strengthen your intakes.
However, this vitamin poorly withstands heat and loses its effects after cooking. To stock up on vitamins C, be sure to consume your raw fruits and vegetables.
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Vitamin A, in addition to being good for eyesight and the immune system, also has many antioxidant virtues. It is usually associated with beta-carotene since the latter allows its transformation into vitamin A in the body.
These two elements are found mainly in yellow, orange and green fruits and vegetables: apricot, melon, carrot, pumpkin, spinach, lettuce, sweet potato… But it is in the animal liver that the greatest amount is found. If you are afraid of this type of food, butter, fresh cream, cheese and eggs also have large quantities.
Zinc is an element with many beneficial properties, both for health and beauty. It helps to strengthen the immune system, while maintaining the good condition of our skin and hair. An indispensable of your plates therefore.
To stock it, choose seafood such as oyster or crab, wheat germ, lentils and some cheeses such as maroilles or morbier.
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Polyphenols are a large family of molecules that will be your allies par excellence against free radicals. This family is so big that in food, there is something for almost every taste.
Fruits, as always, are incredible sources for this type of molecules. It is found in large quantities in Strawberry, lychee, pomegranate, cranberry, grape, apple, date, etc.
As for vegetables, artichoke, and especially its heart, is the richest food in polyphenols. You can also turn to onions, shallots and garlic, but also persil, ginger and celery.
Many other molecules also act against free radicals: this is the case with carotenoids, iron or manganese. Do not hesitate to give preference to a diet that contains it.
Spices are also very good anti-oxidants, so feel free to abuse curry, turmeric or saffron in your dishes.
Finally, gourmets will be delighted to learn that dark chocolate, with a percentage of cocoa greater than 60%, has many virtues and also helps to combat the risk of cancer.
In general, consider eating fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system and stay healthy. Also prefer organic, which usually uses less pesticide than conventional agriculture. Fighting against oxidative stress is therefore essential to our body to avoid the onset of certain diseases, limit skin aging, and thus be able to strengthen its immune system. So, what are you waiting for to refuel with antioxidants?