Antioxidant rich foods are easy to spot, they're the real foods with the most vibrant color. Antioxidants are responsible for combatting oxidative stress within our cells. They are a hero of sorts.
The term antioxidant originally was used to refer specifically to a chemical that prevented the consumption of oxygen. In the late 19th and early 20th century, extensive study was devoted to the uses of antioxidants in important industrial processes, such as the prevention of metal corrosion, the vulcanization of rubber, and the polymerization of fuels in the fouling of internal combustion engines.
Early research on the role of antioxidant rich foods in biology focused on their use in preventing the oxidation of unsaturated fats (Vegetable Oils), which is the cause of rancidity.
Antioxidant activity could be measured simply by placing the fat in a closed container with oxygen and measuring the rate of oxygen consumption. However, it was the identification of vitamins A, C, and E as antioxidants that revolutionized the field and led to the realization of the importance of antioxidants in the biochemistry of living organisms.
It is impossible for us to avoid damage by free radicals. Free
radicals arise from sources both inside (endogenous) and outside
(exogenous) our bodies. Oxidants that develop from processes within our
bodies form as a result of normal aerobic respiration, metabolism, and
Exogenous free radicals form from environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, X-rays, smoking and alcohol. Our antioxidant systems are not perfect, so as we age, cell parts damaged by oxidation accumulate.
The damage done by free radicals contributes to heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration, expedited aging (especially of the skin) and diabetes.
Antioxidant rich foods block the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals.
Common Antioxidants include:
Vitamin A and Caratanoids
Add fresh squeezed lemon or lime to your water for a daily boost of vitamin C. It's also cleansing to the liver. By grating a bit of lemon or lime peel in your foods, you add valuable bioflavanoids, which are extremely beneficial antioxidants.
Phytochemical Antioxidants Think "Phy-ting Power!"(Flavonoids & Polyphenols)
One does not have to travel deep into the rain forest to obtain plenty of antioxidant rich foods. While these are valuable additions, they are not a necessary component to your healthy diet. Add one ounce of pure cranberry to your lemon water, blueberries to your smoothie or oatmeal, pomegranate seeds to a salad and some turmeric or curry powder to your soup dishes.
Antioxidant enzymes made by the body
enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase
prevent oxidation by
scavenging initiating radicals, such antioxidants can thwart an
oxidation chain from ever setting in motion.
In the book Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients by Russell Blaylock, it is stated that those with cancer have notoriously shown very low levels of glutathione in the liver. Glutathione is your major cancer antioxidant and can be found in many whole, color foods, herbs and spices. My favorite high anti-oxidant spice would be Turmeric which has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic Medicine, so be sure to use that Curry!
Antioxidant rich foods are your best insurance policy against degenerative disease. Try to choose organic fruits and vegetables and try to adhere to the "Dirty Dozen" list of foods. You can download a copy of the most contaminated foods. For a small donation, the Environmental Working Group will send you a "bag tag" for your shopping convenience.