Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation in our bodies which occurs through the transfer of electrons and leads to the release of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are very harmful and can damage or alter DNA, leading to often fatal diseases like cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Such radicals can enter the body through external factors like cigarette smoke and pollution as well.
Antioxidants stop the damage done to the body by capturing these free radicals. Our body does produce antioxidants on its own, but external sources of antioxidants go a long way in preventing many diseases. We can get these from safe and natural sources such as fruits and vegetables . Here is a list of top 4 antioxidants in the form of drinks that will help to keep your system in the best shape:
Vitamin C is one of the best-known antioxidants and is extremely useful in protecting the body from infections and preventing damage to cells due to radicals. Insufficient vitamin C also causes a condition called scurvy which leads to anaemia, exhaustion, and even death due to spontaneous bleeding of infections and wounds.
Sources of vitamin C mainly include citrus fruits like oranges and lemon. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C; a study conducted by the FRAP suggests that blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants among commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. Blueberries neutralize the harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body. Also, the anti-inflammatory properties of raspberries are shown to have significant effects on reducing the risk of heart disease as well as cancer .
Pomegranates have multiple health benefits. They contain a type of antioxidant called punicalagin which is an extremely potent compound. Strawberries are also antioxidant-rich fruits with an antioxidant called polyphenol that reduces heart risk and controls blood sugar. They also contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin which reduces the probability of heart disease by lowering the amount of bad cholesterol and increasing the amount of good cholesterol.
While chocolate has been monitored food for all ages due to sugar content and dental decay, dark chocolate has excellent health benefits. Dark chocolate has more antioxidant properties than blueberries or other fruits and vegetables. Hence, it is extremely useful to reduce inflammation within the body, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases.
It has a high amount of fibre and is also a great source of minerals. Dark chocolate can be consumed raw by eating a few pieces of chocolate and also in the form of a milkshake if raw chocolate is too bitter for your taste. Research also suggests that they improve blood flow and maintain healthy blood pressure.
Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Tomatoes are an excellent source of nutrients as they are very rich in these vitamins and minerals but with fewer calories. They also have other benefits that help reduce the risks of cancer and maintain healthy blood pressure in the body as well as maintaining healthy hair and nails through the production of collagen. Collagen is a substance that is found in skins, nails and hairs and is reliant on the amount of vitamin C found in the body.
Carrots contain carotenoids that have multiple health benefits . They are powerful antioxidants and are known to boost immune function. Beta carotene is an important carotenoid that can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Lutein is one other important carotenoid that improves eye health. Lycopene reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Green Tea has about 30% polyphenol by weight that helps prevent cell damage and captures all the harmful free radicals in the body. EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is an important compound found in green tea which has important implications on metabolic and cardiovascular health . Green tea also has other compounds that have shown to improve brain function as well as reducing anxiety risks .
Red cabbage, broccoli, and kale are other important sources of antioxidants. However, these can have quite an unpleasant taste. Therefore, the list above has drinks that your tongue, as well as your immune system, will relish. Adding these fruits and vegetables to your diet will help your body fight against infections and disease.
Now, though the benefits of antioxidants seem to be multiple, it is important to consume them in the right quantities at the right time. It is also important to consume antioxidants through diet and not as supplements. Using these supplements may have multiple ill-effects such as decreased exercise performance and even higher cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.
Remember to consume only natural and required amounts of antioxidants. Consult a doctor or a nutritionist to identify the nutrients and their sources that will help you maintain a healthy body. Take tiny steps to change your diet to have a healthy system that stands strong against infections and diseases.