Health care professionals recommend patients embrace a lifestyle that includes exercise and healthy food to maintain wellness. This is partly because certain products contain particles like antioxidants, which help your body stay healthy. If you’ve heard of this term before, you may have many questions about it. To help you answer them, here’s all you need to know about how antioxidants work and where to find them.
Free radicals damage the cells and are linked to aging, illnesses, cancer, and heart disease. They can build up in your system due to environmental factors such as air pollution, radiation, or excessive sun exposure. Lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, smoking cigarettes, and a high intake of saturated fats may also increase the volume of free radicals in your body. These particles are missing electrons, which make them unstable and harmful.
Antioxidants are special molecules that naturally fight free radicals. They supply electrons to them, transforming these compounds into stable, safe atoms.
The most common antioxidants include Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein. They exist in a wide range of foods and can also be taken as supplements.
A wide variety of fresh, plant-based foods contain antioxidants. When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) tested products to measure antioxidant content, beans, wild blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, pecans, potatoes, and leafy greens were at the top of the list. When you’re craving something sweet, try dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, as this treat is also high in antioxidants.