Antioxidants 101: Everything You Need to Know

Antioxidants seem to be everywhere—in superfoods, skincare, and even dark chocolate. Products that contain antioxidants are marketed as essential for good health, but, what does this mean, and why do they play such an important role in supporting optimal wellness? 

We’re breaking down everything you need to know — you’ll walk away being an antioxidant expert and know exactly what you need to do to make sure that you are nourishing your body with enough to keep your overall health in tip-top shape.

What Are Antioxidants?

Simply put, antioxidants are substances that help reduce the free radicals in our body. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can cause cell and DNA disruption.  (1)

Let’s talk a little more about how this works. The molecules in our body contain electrons that like to be in pairs. This way they remain stable. When a molecule loses an electron it becomes a free radical. This free radical travels around looking to find another electron to pair with, so it can be stable again. It can then take an electron from another pair, creating a new free radical in the process. This is known as oxidation. 

Antioxidants are the heroes in this scenario! They can give an electron to the unstable free radical so that it doesn't have to steal one from a healthy pair, helping to put an end to the vicious cycle of oxidation. 

And, while the body does have its own natural way of reducing free radicals, there are also antioxidant-rich foods and supplements to give your body the help it needs to limit them as well. 

The Importance of Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a crucial role in the reduction of free radicals. This is super important because, unfortunately, we are exposed to free radicals on a daily basis. They can be derived from air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and even normal essential metabolic processes in the human body.

When we expose ourselves to too many free radicals, our body may begin to be unbalanced. (2)

The good news is that with healthy lifestyle choices and a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, you can help neutralize the free radicals in your body to keep your immune system performing in the way it was designed.

The Best Food Sources of Antioxidants

Berries

One of the most well-known sources of antioxidants, berries pack in a powerful nutritional punch. Blueberries, grapes, aronia berries, and strawberries, have all been shown to hold antioxidant properties. This is why berries are often called superfoods, giving us good reason to enjoy them liberally. (3)

To help give your body a powerful boost of antioxidants, try blending up a berry smoothie or enjoy some fresh berries over a bowl of oatmeal or with a side of nuts and seeds for a nourishing snack.

Green Tea

Brewing a mug of green tea is another great way to pack in a hefty dose of antioxidants. (4)

Green tea makes a great coffee substitute if you are looking for a less caffeinated beverage, that will still give you that energy pick-me-up with a side of antioxidants.

Raw Cacao

Need another reason to munch on some chocolate? Here’s one — raw cacao has been shown to contain flavonoids like catechins that hold potent antioxidant properties. This superfood has been known to help improve energy levels, boost mood, and support cognitive function. (5)

The key here is to stay away from regular old chocolate bars that you can find at the grocery store — these are often loaded with sugar and additives. Instead, opt for raw unsweetened cacao that contains at least 70% cacao to reap these health benefits.

Need some inspiration for how to enjoy the decadence raw cacao brings to the table? Try enjoying a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs over chia pudding, blended into a smoothie, or mixed into a healthier almond flour muffin recipe for an added nutritional boost!

Turmeric

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric has been found to hold antioxidant properties, and makes a tasty addition to many recipes. (6)

You can add turmeric to your stir-fry dishes or even whisk up a turmeric milk latte with full-fat coconut milk and a pinch of black pepper.

Supplementing With Antioxidants

The truth is that most Americans simply aren’t getting enough antioxidants from diet alone. Much of this has to do with the fact that the Standard American Diet is void of the antioxidant-rich foods we need to stay healthy.

The good news is that nutrition is something we have control over — we can make healthy dietary choices to transform our health, and a big part of this is eating a diet that’s abundant in wholesome antioxidant-rich foods.

Another way to support health and make sure you are getting the antioxidants you need is to pair clean eating with supplementation.

BalanceGenics Daily Turmeric was designed to help support the body’s overall inflammatory response, and bring balance to free radicals, making it a powerful addition to an antioxidant-rich diet.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how antioxidants work, and why they are so important, with simple and healthy lifestyle and dietary choices, you can nourish your body with the antioxidants it needs to help support your overall wellbeing.

Interested in seeing how turmeric supplementation may make a great addition to an antioxidant-rich diet? Learn more here and always speak with your doctor first about any concerns you have when it comes to supplementation, supporting healthy inflammatory reactions, and oxidative stress.

Resources


1. Jessie Szalay (2016) What are Free Radicals? 


2. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118‐126. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70902


3. Olas B. Berry Phenolic Antioxidants - Implications for Human Health?. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:78. Published 2018 Mar 26. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00078


4. Forester SC, Lambert JD. Antioxidant effects of green tea. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011;55(6):844‐854. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201000641


5.  Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and chocolate in human health. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011;15(10):2779‐2811. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3697


6. Menon VP1, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25.


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