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What Are Antioxidants? Everything You Need to Know About These Mysterious Substances

No one is invincible – even the strongest out there needs to maintain a healthy body. There are tons of ways we can take care of ourselves, including consuming foods rich in antioxidants, which are more helpful than we thought.

You may have read that you need antioxidants to perform optimally, but what are these? Much has been said about these substances and here’s what you need to know about them:

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are found in many foods and supplements. These substances are vital for our bodies to fight cell damage that is usually due to free radicals, which are naturally produced.

Free radicals are a byproduct of different processes in the body – for instance, when you exercise, you release them through lactic acid. They can also come from external factors like the sun, air pollution, and some meds.

Koldunov/Shutterstock — Exercising instantly releases free radicals

These unstable atoms attach to healthy cells, damaging its DNA and protein. If this happens often, the fatty tissue, DNA, cell membrane, and proteins will be destroyed through oxidative stress, which has been linked with throngs of diseases – cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative conditions are only a few.

Are Antioxidants Really Helpful?

This is where antioxidants enter; they can fight free radicals. While they can keep the oxidative stress at bay, it is worth noting that this doesn’t mean it can reduce your risk of acquiring the diseases. King’s College London professor of genetic epidemiology Tim Spector explained that there’s no one answer on whether these substances could really prevent cancer or heart disease.

puhhha/Shutterstock — There are many antioxidant supplements available in the market

He explained how the health benefits usually tied with antioxidants go hand in hand with the advantages of consuming healthy foods and leading a healthy lifestyle. What is the consensus among scientists is that these substances decrease inflammation, a typical bodily process wherein our white blood cells do their job and protect us from harmful things like viruses and bacteria.

Food Rich in Antioxidants

While experts remain divided on antioxidants’ role in reducing risks of acquiring diseases, what’s sure is that we need these substances. Interestingly, our bodies produce these helpful molecules like the alpha lipoic acid and glutathione.

Syda Productions/Shutterstock — Berries are rich in antioxidants

There are many foods that are rich in antioxidants, including coffee, tea, cinnamon, artichokes, pecan, kale, dark chocolate, basil, dill, and berries. However, it is worth noting that there’s no single superfood out there, so you need to make sure you’re eating the right things on a daily basis.

Antioxidant supplements are also available in the market but there’s limited study backing the beneficial claims of companies.

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