Of course we’ve heard or read health articles in which there is the term “antioxidant”, and of course the word is described as something beneficial to the human body, ranging from preventing aging to anti-cancer. But actually what is antioxidant? What are its functions? And where we can get it? Here’s the explanation.
Antioxidants are nutrients contained in foods that may prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our bodies. When the body cells of use oxygen, naturally the cells produce free radicals that can cause damage that ultimately lead to cancer.
What is the benefits of antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nutrients naturally found in fruits and certain vegetables, and has been shown to protect human cells from oxidative damage and provide other advantages, which includes:
1. Strengthens the immune system to be resistant to flu, viruses, and infections.
2. Reduce the risk of all cancers.
3. Prevent the occurrence of glaucoma and macular degeneration.
4. Reduce the risk of oxidation of cholesterol and heart disease.
5. Anti-aging of cells and whole body.
What are types of antioxidants?
Here are some types of antioxidants and a source where we can get it:
1. Vitamin A
The fat-soluble vitamin is needed for bone formation, gastrointestinal, and eye health but it also can help in the immune system and skin. Foods rich in vitamin A, among others, carrots, liver, sweet potatoes, apricots, oranges, mango, guava, papaya, milk, yogurt, and egg yolks.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin is cleaning free radicals that are in an aqueous environment, such as within the cell. Vitamin C works synergistically with vitamin E to eliminate free radicals. Vitamin C found in oranges, lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin is also fat soluble it maintains cell membrane (which is largely composed of fatty acids) from damage caused by free radicals. Another function of vitamin E is to protect fat in LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation. Nuts, grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, and liver oil, are type of foods rich in vitamin E.
Selenium is a mineral that should be consumed in a measurable amount, because if in large doses can be toxic to the body. Foods that are rich in selenium, among others, fish and shellfish, red meat, eggs, chicken, garlic, and whole grains.
Beta-carotene is known as the best remover singlet oxygen (a form of oxygen that is toxic to the body). In addition, beta-carotene is also a good cleanser of free radicals, especially at low oxygen concentrations. Beta-carotene found in carrots, yellow and red peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mangoes, and other types of fruits and vegetables.
As an antioxidant, lycopene is twice as powerful as beta-carotene in protecting white blood cells from membrane damage caused by free radicals. Lycopene can also reduce the risk of prostate and cervical cancer. In addition, lycopene may prevent heart disease by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Together with beta-carotene, lycopene is known to play a role in protecting skin from damage caused by UV radiation. Foods that are rich in lycopene, among others, tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon.
Lutein is carotenoid in high concentrations in the macula of the eye (the back of the eye where retina lies), which is believed to filter out damaging blue light and protects the back of the eye from damage caused by free radicals. Lutein also helps prevent macular degeneration related to age, developmental glaucoma, and cataracts. Foods that are rich in lutein include dark green vegetables, like broccoli, kiwi, spinach, and brussel sprouts.
Lignans is a potent antioxidant that help to eliminate free radicals, which can damage tissue and causes many disease. Foods that contain the lignans found in flaxseed, oatmeal, and barley.