ANTIOXIDANTS TO THE RESCUE
Hi everyone! It’s February already and time for our first #FACTUAL FRIDAY of the month. And, today it’s all about ANTIOXIDANTS – whatever they are 🙂
To begin, there just isn’t a bigger buzz word around these days than “antioxidant.” We hear it everywhere. We see it everywhere. And, everyone claims their product has it. So, what the heck is it — really?
Well — for starters — because we’re talking about an antioxidant – it will be helpful to understand first what an oxidant is.
An oxidant also is known as a free radical. By either name, these are organic molecules that are produced naturally by the body. In addition, we also get hit with free radicals daily from environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke and even an excess of alcohol. And, while it’s true some free radicals play an important role in fending off viruses and harmful microbes – too many of them can cause serious damage and contribute to aging, tissue damage and a variety of diseases, including certain cancers.
The significant fact, however, is that all free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron. Now, a molecule must have an even number of electrons to remain stable and healthy. As a result, free radicals “attack” other healthy molecules and “steal” an electron. When this happens, the free radical is stabilized but the once healthy molecule is now lacking an electron and becomes a free radical itself.
And over time, this process creates a “snowball” effect that creates more and more free radicals that can wreak havoc on healthy body tissues.
On the other hand, an antioxidant is the good guy. It’s a healthy plant-based molecule that battles these oxidants or free radicals and prevents them from causing devastating damage.
You see, an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical by donating one of its own electrons. And, after this “donation” the antioxidant molecule does not become a free radical because antioxidants don’t need an even number of electrons. They are just fine with one electron or two – they remain healthy in either case. In essence, antioxidants “feed” the hungry free radicals the electrons they need so the free radicals don’t need to attack other molecules. Now, that’s cool!
As a result, when we consume antioxidants, we essentially are feeding electrons to all the hungry free radicals in our body and protecting our healthy body tissues from damage and disease.
Well, this is the simple part. We know we should eat certain foods to remain fit and healthy. We know fruits and vegetables are essential for our overall well-being. And, we’ve been told this all our lives.
That being said, some fruits and vegetables are better for us than others. Blueberries, of course, usually take center stage in the discussion on antioxidants. But, other healthy produce powerhouses include raspberries, kiwis, plums, cranberries, red peppers, pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, nuts, fish and beans. Brewed coffee and green tea contain antioxidants. As do chocolate, wine, herbs and spices. Literally, there are thousands of wonderful foods and drinks that can keep us healthy and fight free radicals every day.
So, do your homework. Conduct a little research on plant-based foods and their antioxidant content. Then make a list of your favorites and include them in your daily diet.
- Don’t go overboard. Too many antioxidants may suppress your body’s ability to defend itself. It’s better, therefore, to simply depend on natural sources of antioxidants in your diet rather than supplements.
- When eating foods like apples, carrots or grapes – eat them with the skin on as that’s where much of the antioxidant value is.
And that my friends, is Antioxidants 101. So, pile your plates high with rich, colorful fruits and vegetables. Aim for 5 to 8 servings each day. Add in some super healthy drinks, smoothies and soups. And, you will go a long way in protecting your body and maintaining maximum health so you can lead a PRODUCTIVE, PURPOSEFUL and POSITIVE life!
As always, thanks for joining me everyone. Until next time, stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .