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.

So...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 or electrons that are unpaired. External sources can also contribute to the formation of free radicals — for instance, the dietary choices each of us make each day.

If Free Radicals Can Occur Naturally in our Bodies, How Can they Form a Danger to Us?

Well, 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 cellular components that 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 inhibit the volatility of free radicals and diffuse the potential threat that 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 by themselves, so the only way that we can ensure we have the Antioxidant line of defence is by incorporating sources of these micronutrients in our diets.

Go On... Tell Me What I need to Eat / Drink to Make Sure That My Body is Protected...

NEMi milk bottle

1. (That's right you guessed it) 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.
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Blueberries

2. Fruits and Berries — especially Blueberries, in fact, there is exciting new research that blueberries have been shown to improve memory in certain people. So don't forget- pick up some blueberries when you are next in your local farm shop.


Brocoli

3. Veggies! Broccoli -the cabbage family tree-esque member legume is a fantastically nutritious veggie and with great antioxidant potential.


Garlic bulbs

4. Garlic (that's right get your chewing gum handy) just one clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium- Italian anyone?


Walnuts

5. Nuts- especially Walnuts. In fact, walnuts have twice the amount of antioxidants compare 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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