We hear these words being thrown around, but do you actually have a good grip on what they are?
I break down all the terms and share how nutrition plays a part in them all!
What Are Antioxidants?
Based off its name, we get good insight…Antioxidants are compounds that oppose oxidation or tries to prevent it.
What Is Oxidation?
Oxidation is when an atom, molecule, or ion loses an electron during a reaction. Antioxidants, generously give an electron to prevent this instability from occurring and keep free radicals in check.
What Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are compounds that flow naturally in the body during times of stress (disease or intense exercise), and also have an unpaired electron. (1) They have the ability to harm us only when levels become too high and out number the amount of antioxidants in the body. This imbalance can create oxidative stress, and prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA, increase your risk of cancer, and several other chronic diseases. (2)
To Ensure This Doesn’t Occur: It’s recommended we eat several foods rich in antioxidants, a minimum of 5 servings/day of fruits and vegetables to be exact. Vitamins C, E, anthocyanin, and beta-carotene are going to be the most common ones!
Vitamin C: Has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, and limit the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity. Research is being conducted to see if this process may delay or prevent the development of cancers and chronic diseases because of the role it plays in oxidative stress. Common sources include bell peppers, oranges, citrus fruits (kiwi, grapefruit), broccoli, and strawberries amongst several others. (3)
Vitamin E: Is a fat-soluble antioxidant, meaning a fat source must be present for the body to uptake the nutrients. As mentioned earlier, antioxidants protect cells from the damage of free radicals (unstable compounds that react rapidly with oxygen because of its unpaired electron). When this occurs, reactive oxygen species (ROS) form and begin to damage cells. Vitamin E stops ROS from being produced when fat goes through the oxidation process, and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer . Food sources include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, safflower oil, and more. (4)
Anthocyanin: Part of the flavonoid family and the pigment name responsible for giving foods a deep red, blue, purple color. Anthocyanins are best researched for the prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and several cognitive illnesses due to their powerful antioxidant and flavonoid components. Most abundant sources are found in berries including black currants, blueberries, açai, elderberries, and strawberries as well as beets, red grapes, red wine, dark cherries, plums, blood oranges, and also cabbage. (6)
Beta-Carotene: Amazingly enough, beta-carotene is a strong antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body. It helps stabilize free radicals in the body to reduce the risk of cancer, poor cognitive function, macular degeneration and more while also boosting our vision, immune system, and skin. Common sources include carrots, pumpkin, dark leafy greens, sweet potato, squash, apricots, bell peppers, and several spices. (6)
For Athletes: Intense physical activity can create free radicals and oxidative stress in the body which may damage cells or prolong recovery. To ensure that you are optimizing performance, try to fill your diet with the antioxidant rich foods listed above. This will help you maximize recovery time and continue peak performance repeatedly. This is also the reason why you’ve probably heard of athletes taking tart cherry juice, beet juice, or other antioxidant based supplements before/after exercise. For more info on best supplements to use, inquire HERE.
1/2-1c Nut Milk or Coconut Water (depending on how thick you like your smoothies)
1 Frozen Banana
1c Frozen Mixed Berries
1 Slice of Fresh Beet (2-3” cube)
2 Scoops OWYN Vanilla Protein Powder
2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
Topping: Granola, Nut Butter, Coconut Flakes, Honey, etc.
Sampson, S. (2019, April 3). How does oxidative stress affect the body? Retrieved September 9, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863#free-radicals
Legg, T. J. (2017, December 13). Everything You Should Know About Oxidative Stress. Retrieved September 8, 2019, from 1. https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress#effects
Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C. (2020, February 27). Retrieved September 9, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. (2020, February). Retrieved September 10, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
Webb, D. (2014, March). Anthocyanins. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030314p20.shtml
Butler, N. (2018, February 7). Beta Carotene: Benefits, Foods to Eat, and More. Retrieved September 10, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/beta-carotene-benefits