The Importance of Antioxidants in Your Diet
You may have heard of antioxidants, but are you aware of what they do, or where they come from? Many people take daily antioxidant vitamin supplements – usually for their anti-aging benefits – but don’t necessarily know about all the positive
What do antioxidants do?
The main role of antioxidants in the body is to prevent cells from being damaged by oxidants, which can have harmful effects on the DNA, protein and lipids in the body (National Academy of Sciences, 1993). Oxidants occur naturally in the body and they play an important role in many normal cellular processes. They can also be found in the environment, in things such as cigarette smoke and car emissions. If left alone, oxidants can cause damage to the cells of the body, contributing to conditions such as cancer, heart disease and cataracts (National Academy of Sciences, 1993).
What do we need antioxidants for?
Oxidative stress is the term used when the number of oxidants increases above that of the protective
This is when the body’s own defenses kick in by creating more
Where to find antioxidants
Luckily, antioxidants can be found in plenty of
A great way to top up your daily polyphenol intake is with a nice hot cup of coffee. Scientists have suggested that coffee is in fact one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the average person’s diet, in part thanks to its high caffeine content (American Chemical Society, 2011). Coffee also contains quinines, which are antioxidants that become more potent and powerful following the roasting of the coffee beans (WebMD, 2008). Another surprising way to get your
A key thing to remember is that antioxidants are mainly found in plant foods, so as long as you are filling your plate with plenty of fruit and veg, you should be getting a decent amount into your diet. A full and balanced diet of all sorts of foods is key to supporting your body’s overall health.
American Chemical Society (2011) New evidence that caffeine is a healthful antioxidant in coffee
American Chemical Society (2012) Popcorn: the snack with even higher antioxidants levels than fruits and vegetables
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005) Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond
National Academy of Sciences (1993) Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging
National Cancer Institute (2017) Antioxidants and cancer prevention
Nutrition Society (1999) Effects of dietary antioxidants on the immune function of middle-aged adults
WebMD (2017) Super foods for optimal health
WebMD (2008) The Buzz on Coffee