Why superfoods are healthy: Antioxidants

Antioxidants, a term you hear more and more these days when it comes to healthy food. It is a term that you often encounter when it comes to superfoods. For example, algae supplements and certain berries are a great source of antioxidants. Many know that antioxidants are good for health, for example they are said to prevent cancer. Many people are therefore eating more and more foods rich in it. But many people don’t know what antioxidants are and what exactly they do. This article will provide a brief, simple explanation of this.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants is a collective name for the trace elements selenium and zinc, vitamins E and C and flavonoids (bioactive substances from fruit and vegetables). In short, it is a substance that prevents oxidation. Oxidation is a normal process that occurs in the body, in which body cells are damaged by so-called free radicals. Antioxidants react with these free radicals, rendering them harmless. The damage caused by oxidation can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease, damage to the nervous system and cancer. Getting enough of these antioxidants can help prevent these problems. Oxidation occurs when the body’s own capacity of antioxidants is insufficient. However, there is no scientific evidence that antioxidants actually have this beneficial effect.

How do you get these free radicals?

Free radicals are aggressive substances. They can arise during normal metabolism, but can also be formed in other ways. Thus, they can be formed in large numbers in certain diseases, such as inflammatory reactions. They can also be caused by sunbathing, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption. Free radicals are not always harmful, the body also uses them to neutralize bacteria, for example. Whether they are harmful depends on the type of radicals and where they are produced in a cell.

Harmful effects?

Antioxidants can boost health. However, if you consume too many antioxidants, this can actually be detrimental to your health. This is called the pro-oxidant effect, which produces effects that are the opposite of the proper functioning of antioxidants. With a balanced diet, this surplus of antioxidants will not occur quickly; this danger mainly occurs when taking supplements with a high dose of antioxidants.

Antioxidants in food

Antioxidants are mainly found in vegetables and fruit, but sometimes also in large quantities in other foods, including several superfoods. Below you can see which fruits and vegetables contain the most antioxidants.

Fruit

Vegetable

1. Goji berry

1. Kale

2. Dried plums

2. Spinach

3. Pomegranate

3. Brussels sprouts

4. Raisins

4. Broccoli

5. Blueberries

5. Beets

6. Strawberries

6. Red peppers

7. Raspberries

7. Red onions

8. Plums

8. Corn

9. Oranges

9. Eggplant

10. Grapes

10. Roots

Other foods that are a great source of antioxidants include green tea, raw cacao, nuts and fish. A healthy diet with sufficient fruit and vegetables should provide you with sufficient antioxidants. However, there are also nutritional supplements that can ensure this, but as mentioned earlier, these must be used with caution because otherwise they can have the opposite effect.