Life made simple

What are antioxidants - and what are the pros?

 

“You MUST eat this!” says your friend, who is a self-proclaimed food expert, shoving a giant turnip onto your plate. “It’s crammed with anti-oxidants.” So you eat the giant turnip, silently cursing the food expert friend. But what are antioxidants, and what’s the big deal?

Very simply, they’re molecules that counteract damage by free radicals.

“I’ve heard of free radicals,” you say. “But they sound like liberated political revolutionaries. Was Che Guevara a free radical? Are free radicals scary?”

They can be. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can harm cellular structures. Antioxidants help by neutralising the free radicals (pro-oxidants).

Actually, your body does need some free radicals, but too many can cause damage, even illness. We need the right balance between free radicals and antioxidants. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to oxidative stress, which has wide range of negative effects.

All kinds of stress factors and lifestyle habits can produce excessive free radicals and oxidative stress, like air pollution, smoking, drinking alcohol, toxins, high blood sugar levels, polyunsaturated fatty acids, too much sun, to name just a few.

Live healthy and don’t worry – be happily antioxidised.

Prolonged oxidative stress can cause cardiovascular disease and even some cancers.

But the good news is that antioxidants are in just about all foods of plant and animal origin. A diet rich in plants will give you a lot of antioxidants, as will meat and fish, but in smaller amounts compared to plants.

You’ll also find antioxidants in green tea, coffee and dark chocolate. And antioxidants are an important element in super foods – that category of foods that have extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals to help ward off diseases and and live longer and healthier lives.

One of those superfoods is … drumroll please… broccoli. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting compounds, and the fibre that you need in your diet. It also has very high levels of vitamin C and folate, which can reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke.

So eat all your veggies, especially your broccoli – which is as good frozen as it is fresh – and get these good guys on your side. Live healthy and don’t worry – be happily antioxidised.

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