We need antioxidants because many free radical forming substances expose to the body. The external factors such as cigarette smoke (even if we are not active smokers), air pollution and internal factor such as excessive alcohol consumption can lead to free radicals production. Featured picture: Pixabay.
A free radical is any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell. The free radical theory of aging states that organism age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time. The theory was proposed first time by Denham Harman in the 1950s.
A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. If the generation of free radicals exceeds the protective effects of antioxidants, this can cause oxidative damage which accumulates during our lifetime and has been implicated in aging and age-dependent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic condition.
What Is An Antioxidant?
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Antioxidants are nutrients that help protect our cells against oxidative stress from the damage caused by free radicals. Oxidation is a chemical process which involves the transfer of electrons or hydrogen-producing harmful free radicals in the body. Oxidation leads to a chain reaction that may damage cells.
Antioxidants help reduce the accumulation of free radicals in our body. They help to stop the damage done by free radicals and therefore may be effective in reducing the risk of diseases. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals – unstable atoms that have an unpaired electron in their outermost shell, almost like a knife without a sheath. The antioxidants act to sheathe the knife, binding with the unstable electron and stopping it from attacking other cells.
The other name is micronutrient or vitamin. Human needs more than 50 micronutrients every day to keep the optimum health. Healthy aging involves the interaction among genes, the environment, and lifestyles.
The Most Modifiable Lifestyles Factors are:
- physical activity or exercise, and
- healthy diet
Read more about the healthy diet for women over 40 here.
What Antioxidants Do To Protect The Body Cells?
Antioxidants help stop oxidation reaction by giving away one of their electrons to make free radicals stable, without making themselves unstable. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons.
Let us watch a video about how do the antioxidants keep us healthy below:
ORAC Value / ORAC SCORE: Antioxidant Value of Foods and Beverages
The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in ORAC ( Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity ) units, a unit of measurement for antioxidant content which was originally developed by National Institute on Aging ( NIA ) at the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) in Baltimore. ORAC units measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. Potentially the higher, the better.
The ORAC value of given food will vary due to growing conditions, processing conditions, specific variety and others. We can know the ORAC Value of various foods by searching here.
Here Is The List Of Top 10 Powerful Antioxidants:
Clove, Ground, 314,446 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams).
Trolox equivalence is used as a benchmark for the antioxidants capacity. Clove contains at least 36 ingredients. The most important essential oil in clove is eugenol. The other important ingredient is flavonoids, that contribute to clove’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Clove is an excellent source of manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin C and K, omega-3 fatty acids, and a good source of calcium and magnesium.
Clove oil often used to treat the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. We can inhale clove oil to relieve a cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis. We will often find clove oil in sore throat sprays and mouthwashes.
Clove oil can be used for various dental problems.
Cloves have antiseptic and germicidal properties that help fight infections and arthritis pain.
- Cure Many Digestive Problems.
Clove helps to cure flatulence, loose stools, indigestion, and nausea. Clove oil is known to act against gas and bloating. It can be used to relieve diarrhea, gastric irritability, and vomiting.
- Reducing Mental Exhaustion and Fatigue.
We can use it to get relief from insomnia, memory loss, anxiety and depression.
We can chew clove like chew a candy, add it in smoothies recipes, or add it in cookies.
Adding more herbs and spices to our diet greatly increases the variety of antioxidants we get from our food.
Sumac Bran Sorghum, 312,400 µmol TE/100g
Sumac bran is a high-tannin variety of sorghum. Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses.
A new University of Georgia study has found that select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties compare with blueberries and pomegranates. Sorghum bran extract could be added to a variety of foods and beverages as a liquid concentrate or dried powder.
Cinnamon, Ground, 267,536 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Cinnamon is native to Sri Lankan Island and also grow in other countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, and China. The cinnamon plant belonging to the family of Lauraceae or Laurel of the genus Cinnamomum. It has been used since biblical times for its fragrance, medicinal and culinary properties.
Aromatic cinnamon essential oil features golden-yellow color with the distinctive tint of cinnamon and very pungent, aromatic taste. The taste and scent of cinnamon are because of the presence of cinnamic aldehyde, and cinnamaldehyde.
Cinnamon Health Benefits are:
It is a very good source of flavonoid phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. It also contains vitamin A, niacin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine in a good amount.
Cinnamaldehyde has the anticoagulant function. It prevents platelet clogging inside the blood vessel so helps prevent stroke, peripheral arterial and coronary artery diseases.
Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity so that it has a regulatory role in blood glucose level and lipid and it may also exert a blood glucose-suppressing effect.
- Antiseptic and Local Anesthetic
Eugenol in cinnamon gives local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence used in the dental and gum treatment procedures.
Various studies have indicated that cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon inhibits the activation of inflammation causing factor such as arachidonic acids.
Cinnamon is externally used as a rubefacient, a substance for topical application that produces redness of the skin e.g by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation. It is also employed to counteract the sting of poisonous insects.
- Carminative, Anti-flatulent
An anti-flatulent agent is a drug used for alleviating or preventing of excessive intestinal gas.
4. Sorghum, Bran, Raw, 240,000 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
5. Oregano, Dried, 200,129 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Oregano is high in antioxidant because of the phenolic acids and flavonoids high content. It also has shown antimicrobial activity against strains of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.
Turmeric, Ground, 159,277 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Acai Berry, Freeze-Dried, 102,700 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Acai is an indigenous berry from the rainforest of the Amazon. This fruit has been used for centuries as a healing, immune-stimulating, and energy-boosting fruit.
Acai Berry Health Benefits are:
- Promotes Heart Health
Acai berries contain extremely high anthocyanins, that support balanced cholesterol levels and rich in plant sterols that provide cardio-protective benefits.
- Improves Cellular Health
The anthocyanins in acai berry help to keep cells strong against the invasion of free radicals.
- Has Anti Aging Effects
Acai berry contains extremely high phytochemicals that may slow or reverse aging processes.
- Boost The Immune System
- Boost Energy
Simply eat a handful of the berries and we will be ready to do our activities.
- Boost in Sex Drive, Especially for Men.
The purple berry increases blood circulation in the human body, contribute to a boost in sex drive. Acai berry is a natural aphrodisiac.
- Improves Cognition and Promotes Healthy Brain Aging.
Eating plenty of foods rich in antioxidants is a natural way to improve our focus and memory. Inflammation and oxidative stress are two major causes of cognitive problems, such as loss of memory, dementia and other age-related mental disorders. Studies have found that fractions extracted from acai berry contain brain-saving nutrient.
- Promotes Skin Health.
Acai berry is useful for preventing early signs of aging and helping with skin regeneration. We can use acai berry to prevent skin degradation and keep skin healthy looking. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants helps the body repair damaged skin cells faster and maintain more youthful appearance.
- Help Lose Weight.
Consume acai berry is useful to boost proper digestion and control the amount of insulin in the blood. Acai berry facilitates the breakdown of fats and carbohydrate and helps lower the desire to overeat.
- Help Digestion.
Acai berry is a natural colon cleanser. It prevents the accumulation of harmful substances and undigested matter from staying in the colon that can cause constipation and other digestive problem.
- Reduces Irritation in The Lung.
Consuming Acai Berries: Buy certified organic acai berries and pulp that are safer and taste better.
Sorghum, Bran, Black, 100,800 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
The sorghum grains had high antioxidant activity compared to other cereals. Black sorghum is a valuable source of anthocyanins with good antioxidant activity.
Sumac, Grain, Raw, 86,800 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened, 80,933 µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)
Cocoa was an astringent drink for Mayan and Aztec rulers. Cocoa beans have a high percentage of the flavonoids called catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. Catechins make up 10 percent of the dried cocoa powder.
Cocoa Health Benefits are:
Cocoa contains the substance phenethylamine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant.
- Help to Fight Heart Disease
- Help to Fight Aging
- Lower LDL Cholesterol
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Boost Cognitive Performance
- Provide Essential Minerals Such as Calcium and Potassium
We should understand that antioxidants are definitely not a treatment for cancer. The research is only suggesting that having less oxidative stress in life might prevent some occurrences of cancer before they occur, not after someone already has it.
The elderly, especially people over 40 years old whose have bigger health risks, should be encouraged to consume a diet rich in antioxidants because there are many pieces of evidence that such a diet in combination with a healthy lifestyle lower the mortality rate by more than 50% in the 70-90 years old (Knoops et al 2004).
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