Everyone has heard about antioxidants, but what do they really do and why are they good for us? Antioxidants are made in the body, but we also get them from our food. They act like little protectors for our cells that neutralize free radicals roaming around in the body. Some of the familiar antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E, the mineral selenium, beta-carotene (carrots) and lycopene (tomatoes).
Free radicals are basically unstable molecules, each missing an electron, thereby going around and stealing electrons from other cells in a process called “oxidation”. This destroys healthy cells and tissues. Free radicals are normal by-products of our metabolism, and are even created with exercise, but are also by-products of metabolic waste as the body tries to rid itself of allergens and toxins. Other things that can cause an increase in free radicals include exposure to chemicals (indoor and outdoor), stress, radiation, and the standard American diet (!).
If the body doesn’t get enough antioxidants to mop up the free radicals, many health issues can occur such as arthritis, allergies, inflammation, aging skin, fatigue, and cancer.
How do we get more antioxidants? The USDA put together a list of foods that are the best sources of these super molecules:
Clove oil from fresh cloves
You can click here to get more details about the power of antioxidants. Basically, eating a ton of fruits and vegetables (at least nine 1/2 cup servings) is going to help protect your cells from free radical damage and have you feeling strong and energetic! Use this easy smoothie recipe to get a big dose of antioxidants on the go:
**Add 1/2 cup blueberries (can be frozen), 1/2 cup raspberries (can be frozen), 1/2 cup fresh spinach or kale, and 1 cup water. You can add some ice if the berries are fresh and not frozen. (Oh, and that’s three servings of fruits and vegetables down!) Blend and go!