6 Health Benefits of Antioxidants


There’s quite a lot of speak about the advantages of antioxidants, and for good motive. Many consultants recommend they shield us from untimely getting older, coronary heart illness, most cancers, and probably melancholy and nervousness.

Color fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants
Desk of Contents
  1. What are antioxidants?
  2. The well being advantages
  3. #1) Struggle free radicals
  4. #2) Scale back oxidative stress
  5. #3) Psychological heath
  6. #4) Mind well being
  7. #5) Help wholesome getting older
  8. #6) Wholesome eyes
  9. What meals are excessive in antioxidant?
  10. Including antioxidants to your weight loss plan
  11. Are there any cons?
  12. Dangers of low antioxidant consumption
  13. Take residence message

What are antioxidants?

You may have in all probability heard of antioxidants however may not know what they’re or why you want them. Selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, and phytochemicals are antioxidants present in vegetation. The physique additionally makes its personal antioxidants (e.g., coenzyme Q10, glutathione), however the stage of intracellular antioxidants relies upon virtually completely on the meals we eat.

Antioxidants are compounds present in meals and produced within the physique that stop or delay harm to our cells.

Antioxidants are water-soluble or fat-soluble. They reside in components of our cells which can be watery or oily (fats). For instance, vitamin-C is water-soluble and is discovered within the watery-filled compartments of the physique. Vitamin-E is fat-soluble and will be present in our cells’ lipid-rich (fat-rich) areas, just like the cell membrane.

Though they work in numerous areas of the physique, our antioxidants talk and help each other. Consider them pretty much as good mates or co-workers. Antioxidants work collectively like a incredible workforce that defends in opposition to damaging unstable molecules referred to as free radicals.

The well being advantages

A long time of analysis recommend individuals who eat extra beneficiant quantities of antioxidant-rich meals have elevated safety in opposition to illness. A part of this safety is said to our antioxidant’s capacity to struggle free radicals and cut back oxidative stress.

#1) Struggle free radicals

Antioxidants assist shield our cells from harm brought on by free radicals. So, what are free radicals? They’re extremely reactive, unstable molecules which can be attempting to change into steady. They nearly steal what they don’t have (an electron) to make themselves steady. They assault a molecule that’s shut by, equivalent to a lipid or protein, and steal an electron.

Now the “robbed” molecule turns into a free radical and assaults one other close by molecule creating a series response. All this theft creates harm to our cells and DNA. Sufficient harm and we find yourself with untimely getting older and ailments like diabetes, coronary heart illness, and most cancers.

We can not escape free radicals. They’re created naturally once we breathe, train, and convert meals to vitality. There are additionally environmental sources of free radicals equivalent to cigarette smoke, air air pollution, and daylight. We, due to this fact, want an abundance of antioxidants to cease all these thieves.

Antioxidants shield our cells and DNA by giving free radicals what they’re lacking (an electron) with out changing into radicals themselves.

When vitamin E donates an electron to a free radical, it helps cease that chain response of injury, however now the vitamin E wants a bit help to remain lively. Vitamin C involves the rescue and restores vitamin E to its lively state.

We’d like an abundance of dietary antioxidants to decrease free radical harm. We additionally need quite a lot of them. Completely different antioxidants defend in opposition to varied sorts of free radicals. Taking a vitamin C complement alone received’t quench the various sorts of free radicals. The desk beneath presents a couple of examples of this.

Free Radical Producer Protecting Antioxidant
Air Air pollution Nutritional vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, inexperienced tea extracts
Ionizing (x-ray) and Non-ionizing (daylight) Radiation Nutritional vitamins C, E, selenium, lutein, lycopene, inexperienced tee polyphenols, curcumin
Pesticides Nutritional vitamins A, C, E, selenium, lycopene, EGCG, quercetin
Train Endogenous free-radical protection techniques


Desk Supply: [1]

The purpose is to not eradicate free radicals, as they do have a goal. For instance, they assist the immune system struggle infections. The issue is when there are too many free radicals for our antioxidant workforce to neutralize. If fruit and vegetable consumption is low, as it’s in most People, we would not have the sources to defend in opposition to these radicals, resulting in dangerous oxidative stress.

#2) Scale back oxidative stress

Oxidative stress happens once we lack stability and it will possibly harm our physique and mind. It’s related to heart problems (atherosclerosis), most cancers, diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, neurodegenerative ailments (Alzheimer’s illness, Parkinson’s illness), autoimmune ailments (systemic lupus), psychological stress, melancholy, and reminiscence loss [2, 3, 4]. And, elevated stress, temper problems, and continual illness enhance oxidative stress. A vicious cycle happens.

After we don’t have sufficient antioxidants, free radicals construct up and trigger oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress can also be related to irritation. Irritation is a key driver in continual ailments like heart problems and temper problems like melancholy.  There seems to be a bidirectional relationship right here – oxidative stress will increase irritation, and irritation will increase free radicals resulting in oxidative stress. 

Antioxidants assist cut back irritation. Vitamin C, for instance, has been proven to scale back c-reactive protein (CRP). Elevated CRP is related to elevated heart problems. Vitamin C was present in one research to scale back CRP by 25% in these with elevated CRP. That is wonderful and similar to CRP reductions seen with statin remedy [5].

The physique does its greatest to cease oxidative stress. It can produce an arsenal of antioxidants, however the physique’s inside antioxidant system alone is just not sufficient. The weight loss plan have to be wealthy in vegetation to scale back the fixed bombardment of free radicals efficiently.

#3) Psychological heath

The mind is particularly prone to free radicals. The hippocampus, an space of the mind concerned in studying and reminiscence, takes a giant hit. Oxidative stress not solely kills cells within the hippocampus, but it surely additionally reduces neurogenesis (development of recent mind cells).

A smaller hippocampus reduces studying and reminiscence and is related to temper problems like melancholy.

There may be rising analysis exhibiting a connection between a poor antioxidant protection system, oxidative stress, and temper problems [4]. Using antioxidants as an adjunctive remedy of neuropsychiatric problems is promising. Some researchers imagine it’s potential to scale back melancholy and nervousness signs by consuming meals wealthy in antioxidants [4].

A current research discovered decrease ranges of nutritional vitamins A, C, and E in folks with nervousness dysfunction and melancholy. After receiving 6-weeks of dietary supplementation, blood ranges of antioxidants elevated, and melancholy and nervousness signs have been decreased [6]. One other research discovered an affiliation between whole carotenoids (significantly beta-carotene and lutein, plus zeaxanthins) and decreased melancholy [7].

Warning is suggested with excessive doses of antioxidants, as seen with dietary supplementation. This might enhance oxidation (prooxidation) and intrude with a few of the protecting features of free radicals [8]. It’s all the time greatest to seek the advice of together with your well being care supplier earlier than making any dietary adjustments.

#4) Mind well being

The lack of neurons as a consequence of oxidative stress is linked to the event of neurodegenerative problems equivalent to Alzheimer’s illness. Researchers have been inspecting the results of antioxidant therapies for his or her neuroprotective results.

Oxidative stress damages and kills neurons (mind cells).

A number of research have proven an affiliation between neurodegenerative problems (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s ailments, amyotrophic sclerosis) and antioxidant vitamin deficiency. One in every of these research discovered a decreased danger of cognitive decline in folks 65 years of age and older when given vitamin C and/or vitamin E [9].

A well-respected scientific trial referred to as The Physicians’ Well being Examine II, gave a placebo or a 50 mg beta-carotene complement to just about 6,000 males over 65 years of age. The researchers discovered cognitive advantages within the males who supplemented with beta-carotene for at the very least 15 years [10].

#5) Help wholesome getting older

Growing older, oxidative stress, and irritation are intently associated. There’s a principle referred to as oxi-inflamm-aging that has been proposed. The idea means that continual oxidative stress alters our regulatory techniques, equivalent to nervous, endocrine, and immune techniques, as we age. Activation of the immune system results in an inflammatory state, which creates a vicious circle.

Continual oxidative stress and irritation incite each other and subsequently enhance age-related illness and mortality [11].

Researchers are additionally mobile getting older as the basis reason for ailments related to age, like coronary heart illness and most cancers. Scientists can assess mobile getting older by measuring telomeres. Many research have proven an affiliation between shorter telomeres, getting older, and poor well being.

So, what are telomeres? You would possibly consider them just like the plastic finish of a shoelace that protects the lace. Equally, telomeres shield the ends of our chromosomes that comprise our DNA. Each time our cells divide, the telomeres get shorter. The telomeres put on down, lowering their capacity to guard our DNA [12, 13]. Harm to DNA will increase the chance of untimely getting older and illness.

Antioxidants assist shield our DNA. A part of this safety could also be because of the method antioxidants have an effect on telomeres. This is good news. We now have some management right here. Our life-style habits equivalent to a nutritious diet and train can sluggish telomere shortening. Antioxidants could assist protect our telomeres as a result of they cut back oxidative stress and irritation, each of that are related to telomere shortening [14, 13, 15].

Consuming loads of antioxidant-rich meals could delay age-related ailments by lowering oxidative stress and irritation, thereby defending telomere integrity and lowering DNA harm.

#6) Wholesome eyes

Analysis has proven the protecting advantages of antioxidants in opposition to age-related eye illness (AMD). AMD happens as we age and damages the macula of the attention. AMD is a number one reason for imaginative and prescient loss in folks 50 years of age and older. It doesn’t trigger full blindness, but it surely damages our central imaginative and prescient. We’d like our central imaginative and prescient for issues like studying, driving, recognizing faces, and doing close-up work equivalent to cooking [16].

A number of giant scientific trials led by the Nationwide Eye Institute and the NIH (Nationwide Institutes for Well being) discovered helpful results of antioxidant dietary supplements. A six-year scientific trial discovered {that a} mixture of antioxidants (vitamin C, 500 mg; vitamin E, 400 IU; and beta carotene, 15 mg, 80 mg of zinc) decreased the chance of growing AMD by 25 %. The antioxidants used alone decreased danger by 17 %. One other research discovered that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation protected imaginative and prescient in individuals with late AMD for as much as 5 years [17, 18, 19].  

What meals are excessive in antioxidant?

Meals wealthy in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, and phytochemicals present antioxidants.

There are a number of strategies used to evaluate antioxidant content material in meals. ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capability) was as soon as thought-about the gold commonplace however is never used at this time. FRAP (ferric lowering capacity of plasma) has emerged as the most effective checks to measure antioxidant content material by its capacity to quench a particular free radical [20]. Berries, leafy greens, nuts, darkish chocolate, beans, and cruciferous greens have excessive FRAP values, that means they’re excessive in antioxidants.

The desk beneath presents meals wealthy in antioxidant nutritional vitamins and minerals.

Antioxidant Meals Sources
Vitamin C Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), strawberries, candy potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes
Vitamin E Vegetable oils, nuts, peanut butter, seeds, whole-grains, wheat germ, fortified cereals
Carotenoids Candy potatoes, carrots, mangoes, apricots, tomatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter squash
Selenium Nuts, entire grains, seafood, meat


Along with vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, and selenium, many phytochemicals act as antioxidants.

To maintain it easy, search for vibrantly coloured vegetation. Wholesome plant-based meals which can be vibrant in shade are likely to have excessive FRAP scores.

Inexperienced. Inexperienced vegetation present us with many phytonutrients together with lutein and zeaxanthin (inexperienced leafy greens), isoflavones (soy), isothiocyanate (broccoli, kale, Brussel’s sprouts), EGCG (inexperienced tea), quercetin (inexperienced chili peppers),  and flavones (recent oregano, recent parsley, recent peppermint) [21].

Purple.  Purple-colored vegetation present us with lycopene (tomatoes), flavonoids (pink scrumptious apple with pores and skin), ellagic acid (strawberries, raspberries), isothiocyanate (pink cabbage), anthocyanidins (radish, pink cabbage, pink wine) [21].

Orange/Yellow.  Orange and yellow vegetation present beta-carotene and alpha-carotene (carrots, candy potatoes, pumpkin), flavonoids (apricot), hesperidin (oranges, lemons), and curcumin (turmeric).   

Blue/Purple. Blue and purple coloured vegetation present resveratrol (grapes, grape juice, wine) and anthocyanidins (blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes) [21].

White.  White vegetation are excessive in quercetin (onions, pulp of apples), isothiocyanate (cauliflower), allicin (garlic), and anthocyanidins (onion) [21].

Tan/Brown. Tan and brown vegetation present proanthocyanidins (cinnamon, cocoa, darkish chocolate, pecans) and chlorogenic acids (espresso) [21].

Including antioxidants to your weight loss plan

There aren’t any blanket suggestions for antioxidant consumption. A weight loss plan that features greens, fruits, entire grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and tea will present loads of these vitamins [22].

The only technique to get your antioxidants is to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit for each meal. And eat a rainbow of colours each day.

For those who observe the 2015-2020 Dietary Pointers for People, you’ll probably have a weight loss plan wealthy in antioxidants. The rules suggest 2 cups of fruit and a couple of.5 cups of greens per day for folks requiring 2,000 energy per day.

Meals Group 2,000 Calorie Diet
Greens 2½ cups per day
— Darkish-green greens 1½ cups per week
— Purple and orange greens 5½ cups per week
— Legumes (beans and peas) 1½ cups per week
— Starchy greens 5 cups per week
— Different greens 4 cups per week
Fruits 2 cup per day
Grains 6 oz per day (½ from entire grains)
Nuts seeds, soy merchandise 5 oz per week
Oils 27 g


Desk Supply: 23

Are there any cons?

Antioxidants from meals don’t elevate concern. Nonetheless, excessive dose dietary dietary supplements are a priority for some folks. Antioxidants in excessive doses could change into prooxidants [1]. They’ll enhance free radicals, oxidative stress, and hurt well being.

Excessive quantities of beta-carotene and vitamin E from dietary supplements have been proven to extend lung most cancers danger in people who smoke. Analysis has additionally seen a better danger of prostate most cancers and stroke with excessive dose vitamin E dietary supplements.

Excessive doses of antioxidants also can intrude with sure drugs. Vitamin E dietary supplements, for instance, can intrude with blood thinners (e.g., warfarin) and enhance the chance of bleeding [24, 25, 26]. To forestall issues, it’s greatest to seek the advice of together with your healthcare supplier earlier than including any dietary dietary supplements.

Dangers of low antioxidant consumption

A weight loss plan low in antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit is related to a better danger of ailments, together with most cancers, coronary heart illness, stroke, and cataracts. Consuming sufficient vegetation is critically essential in offering us with the antioxidants we have to push back sickness.

Take residence message

Antioxidants are compounds discovered primarily in vegetation that shield us from damaging free radicals and oxidative stress. A long time of analysis recommend a weight loss plan filled with antioxidant-rich meals protects us from illness. Meals wealthy in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, and phytochemicals present us with antioxidants. A easy technique to extend your antioxidants is to eat an abundance of colourful vegetation each day.


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