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The Power of Antioxidants for Growing Older Gracefully Featured

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antioxidantsMany people are looking  to antioxidants for their fountain of youth and as their antiaging, and anti cancer solution. But are they barking up the right tree?

Marketing experts seem to think so, with many food and supplement companies heavily marketing those looking to stay young,  slow disease and have the desire to grow old gracefully. 

How Antioxidants Work

The body continually replenishes its cells as cells mature and die. This birth and death of cells in the body goes on continuously, 24 hours a day. Through a process called cellular metabolism, the body produces energy, more cells and repairs any damage.  It is a process that is necessary to keep the body healthy. One by-product of cellular metabolism is unstable molecules called free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that damage your body. Free radicals often injure the cell, damaging the DNA, which creates the seed for disease. The results include visible and invisible changes to our bodies.  The development of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and neurological deficiencies may begin to affect you as you age.  Also, thinner skin wrinkles and brittle bones are a problem.  Free radicals enter our body from outside sources as well: cigarette smoke,  are all free radical generatorsair pollution, radiation and the sun’s UV rays.  Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also triggers substantial free radical production.The more free radicals we encounter, the greater the damage that can be done to our bodies.

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Antioxidants have been shown to be of great help in the free radical problem.  Antioxidant substances combine with free radicals and neutralize them.  Once they are neutralized, they can no longer do any damage.  Scientists don’t have any idea of a recommended daily dose of antioxidants to correct free radical damage and the diseases that come with age, but they do know that eating foods rich in antioxidants makes a huge difference in how we live.

Antioxidants Classes

Flavonoids are the biggest class of antioxidants. Researchers have identified some 5,000 flavonoids in various foods, Blumberg tells WebMD.

Polyphenols are a smaller class of antioxidants, which scientists often refer to as "phenols." (Terms like phytonutrient and phytochemical are more generic terms that researchers sometimes use to describe nutrients and chemicals in plants.)

Top Antioxidants

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
  • Beta-carotene

Certain minerals like zinc and selenium also function in the body.  They are not antioxidants but they boost the immune system to fight against free radical damage.

Getting the Right Mix of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are not produced by the body so to get the benefit of these power-packed substances you must ingest them.  A variety of foods contain antioxidants.

The body needs a mix of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene, to neutralize this free radical assault.

"We can't rely on a few blockbuster foods to quench the free radicals that cause aging and contribute to disease," says health and wellness author Jeff Behar. "You can't eat nine servings of beans a day and expect it to do it all. We need to eat many different types of foods to get a proper mix of antioxidants. Each type of antioxidant works in different tissues of the body, in different parts of cells. Some antioxidants are better at quenching certain free radicals, some are better at quenching others. When you have appropriate amounts of different antioxidants, you're doing what you can to protect yourself free free radical damage.

Antioxidants in Food

To help your body protect itself from the rigors of oxidation, Mother Nature provides thousands of different antioxidants in various amounts in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.Antioxidants are also found in cold water fish, seafood and red meat.

Best Sources of High Antioxidants Foods

All foods are not equally good if we consider their antioxidant content. Some foods are better than the others.

  1. Fruits
    Berries (Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit. Scientists as reported at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Aug 2009 have found that some vegetables and fruits like berries, grapes, walnuts, olives, and foods like chocolate, wine, coffee and tea and popcorn, and some breakfast cereals contain large amounts of healthful antioxidant substances called polyphenols. Polyphenols play important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
  2. Vegetables
    Kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, red beets.
  3. Dry Fruits high in antioxidants
    Apricots, prunes, dates.
  4. Legumes
    Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans.
  5. Nuts and seeds
    Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, ground nut or peanuts, sunflower seeds. Peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, roasting boosts its overall antioxidant content by as much as 22 per cent. Roasted peanuts are far richer in antioxidants than apples, beets and carrots and comparable to the antioxidant content of strawberries and blackberries.
  6. Cereals
  7. Barley, millet, oats, corn.
  8. Spices
    cloves, cinnamon, oregano

List of 20 Best Foods High in Antioxidants

In the table below, the foods antioxidant power is given as per their serving sizes.

Rank Type Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity per serving size
1 Beans/Legumes Red Beans (dried) Half cup 13727
2 Fruit, Berry Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
3 Beans/Legumes Red kidney beans (dried) Half cup 13259
4 Beans/Legumes Pinto beans Half cup 11864
5 Fruit, Berry Blueberry 1 cup 9019
6 Fruit, Berry Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8983
7 Vegetable Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7904
8 Fruit, Berry Blackberry 1 cup 7701
9 Fruit Prune Half cup 7291
10 Fruit, Berry Raspberry 1 cup 6058
11 Fruit, Bery Strawberry 1 cup 5938
12 Fruit Red Delicious apple One 5900
13 Fruit Granny Smith apple One 5381
14 Nut Pecan 1 ounce 5095
15 Fruit, Bery Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
16 Fruit Black plum One 4844
17 Vegetable Russet potato (cooked) One 4649
18 Beans/Legumes Black beans (dried) Half cup 4181
19 Fruit Plum One 4118
20 Fruit Gala apple One 3903

Antioxidant Supplements

Multivitamins and vitamin supplements can provide the body with an antioxidant boost, but they should not be your primary source of antioxidants. Current studies do not support the value of non food sources of antioxidants for disease prevention and antiaging. Getting your antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts is the best approach for getting the disease fighting and age slowing benefits of antioxidants.

Last modified on Friday, 09 November 2012 09:40
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