Anyone who has stepped near a health-related story in the last decade know antioxidants are good. But while that little fact has burned itself into our brains, raise your hand if you can actually say why.
The collective silence of your brains going blank is deafening! We often accept these little pearls of wisdom without trying to understanding them, which is why I’m here to give you a little lesson of the power of the antioxidant.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring components in food that:
- Support the growth of healthy cells (it’s like Vegemite to little kids)
- Protect cells against premature and abnormal aging (think sunblock)
- Help fight age-related macular degeneration (keeps your eyes in focus)
- Provide support for the body’s immune system (has your back like a big brother)
The Bad Guys
If antioxidants were Super Man, free radicals would be Lex Luther. They are molecules with unpaired electrons that float around everywhere, in the air, our bodies and the material around us. They are all around you even as you read this! Due to their bitterness in being alone and abandoned, during their search for another electron (AKA Lois Lane) they become very reactive and cause damage to surrounding molecules, especially when in contact with cellular components such as DNA. This destructive path results in poor functioning and even cellular death!
Their delinquent rap sheet includes:
- Deterioration of the eye lens, which can contribute to blindness
- Inflammation of the joints, which causes arthritis
- Damage to the nerves cells in the brain, which contributes to medical conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
- Increase risk of coronary heart disease caused by free radicals encouraging low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to stick to artery walls. They are a bad influence on others too!
It’s important to have a healthy intake of antioxidants to keep those bad boys in line!
Save Me Superman
The antioxidant rich list reads like a who’s who of super foods with grape seed extract, green tea, acai, goji berries and mangosteen all playing starring roles. For those who have difficulty fitting enough goji berries in their diet, the strongest source of antioxidants on the market is actually the Siberian Red tonic made from Siberian fir tree needles. According to the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, the test for measuring antioxidant levels, Siberian Red has a value of 21,500 per 100 grams. Most common fruit fall between 100 and 9,500.
At the end of the day, no matter where you source them, always make sure you have a few mercenaries to back you up!