Antioxidants help guard the body against free radicals — unstable molecules that can disrupt healthy cells in the body. Every body has free radicals, but when nutrition is inadequate, bodies lack the antioxidants to combat them.
Antioxidants work by providing the free radicals with what they need to stabilize them, without being destabilized themselves and turning into free radicals.
Over time, a lack of antioxidants can cause persistent health degeneration, most notably in the skin. So antioxidants also help skin look younger and feel healthier.
The benefits don’t stop there. They are also know to help fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and eye problems like cataracts.
Where to find them
Antioxidants are found in many foods and beverages. Catherine Saxelby, a nutritionist, relays best places to get antioxidants in foods:
They’re concentrated in brightly colored fruits and vegetables – often the antioxidants are responsible for the color, such as the orange of beta-carotene found in carrots and pumpkin, or the red of lycopene in tomato and watermelon, or the yellow of lutein in spinach and swiss chard – yellow, but masked by the green chlorophyll.
Popular beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, and cocoa also have considerable levels of antioxidants. Unlike fruits and vegetables, you’ll need to monitor your intake of these to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, which can damage your health.
Because there are many types of free radicals in your system at any given point in time, it is vital to take in a wide variety of antioxidants. Each antioxidant has its own unique properties that can keep you healthier. Orange, blue, red, yellow, or brown — make variety the rule rather than the exception.