Antioxidants: What Are They Exactly?

The Basics:

Woman in field at sunset

Antioxidants are our bodies natural defence 'ammo'. They are chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals known as free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to cells.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are naturally formed in the body through the interaction of oxygen with certain molecules and enzymes. Essentially, free radicals are atoms (or a group of atoms) that have an odd number of electrons. External sources can also contribute to the formation of free radicals — for instance, the dietary choices we make.

If Free Radicals Can Occur Naturally in our Bodies, Why are they Dangerous?

The danger lies in the reaction of free radicals with important cellular components- such as our cell membranes or DNA. In such cases, our originally healthy cells may function poorly or even die.

Why Make the Analogy of Antioxidants as our Bodies 'Ammo'?

The role of our Antioxidant molecules is to target these free-radical 'threats' and render them unable to react with the cellular components our bodies rely on to remain healthy. They do this by safely combining with the free radicals -converting them into chemical structures that are no longer capable of creating a chain reaction. They remove the volatility of free radicals and eliminate the potential threat they once posed.

What are Sources of Antioxidants?

Micronutrients are our main source of Antioxidants. Unfortunately, our bodies are not set up to manufacture these micronutrients themselves, so the only way that we can ensure we have the Antioxidant line of defence is by incorporating sources of them into our diets.

What do I need to Eat and Drink to Make Sure That My Body is Protected?

NEMi milk bottle

1. Nemi Milk is naturally enriched with Selenium which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress and the normal function of the immune system.


Blueberries

2. Fruits and Berries — Especially Blueberries. In fact, new research shows that blueberries improve memory in certain people. So don't forget- pick up some blueberries when you are next in your local farm shop.


Brocoli

3. Broccoli -This cabbage family tree member is a fantastically nutritious vegetable with great antioxidant potential.


Garlic bulbs

4. Garlic -Just one clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.


Walnuts

5. Nuts- Especially Walnuts. In fact, walnuts have twice the amount of antioxidants compared to other nutty sources.


Here is a handy pdf with more information on the 'Food Sources of Antioxidants.'

Would you like to know more about Antioxidants and their role in the human body?

Click here for the 'Ultimate Guide to Antioxidants'.

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