create an account

Create an account to track orders, manage your meal plan, and update your delivery preferences.

Already have an account with us?

pinterest Save

The truth behind antioxidants and food

When you buy that organic mixed berry juice that touts extra antioxidants and protection from free radicals, do you really understand what that means, or do you buy it because the industry says it's good for you? Most of us would say the latter unless you have a fairly decent memory of Chemistry 101. So the question is what are antioxidants, what do they do and are they important to put in your diet?

For this, we need a quick blast from the past, with a basic breakdown of the atom. Words you may remember are nucleus, electrons and molecules. So very quickly, electrons create chemical reactions, which bond atoms together to create molecules. They can only do this function in the body if the electrons orbiting the nucleus are in even numbers, two on the first ring, eight on the second ring etc. The goal is for the body to always have stable atoms, which means they are always trying to reach maximum electrons in their outer orbit by gaining, losing or sharing electrons through bonding.

Now to free radicals. These guys are unstable and cause chaos in the body at a molecular level, and if it is not stopped leads to degenerative diseases from dementia to atherosclerosis. When a molecule is split with an odd number of electrons, a free radical is formed. This unstable atom then steals its needed electron from the closest molecule, starting a chain reaction of electron theft. As each stable molecule is robbed of one electron, it then robs one from the next eventually destroying a cell. This cellular damage later compounds with age.

Here come antioxidants to the rescue. Antioxidants are nutrients which contain molecules that stop the oxidation chain by supplying one of their own electrons to the odd numbered molecule ending the thieving spree. Antioxidants are stable with even or odd electrons in their outer shells and therefore flow around the body donating lost electrons to damaged molecules and ending cellular damage. Now there are hundreds of substances that act as electron donating antioxidants, and each one does a different job. So there is no magic food, drink or pill that will completely stop free radicals, but a healthy balance of them all will certainly do wonders for cellular damage.

The most popular antioxidants are Vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, lutein and selenium. This does not mean to only eat these or take them in abundance. Antioxidants are found in hundreds of foods and should not be overloaded on the system.

Here are your fundamental five. Try to eat something from each group at least once a day or mix in a couple of them.

1. Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, dried apricots, cantaloupe, leafy greens, bell peppers, mangos

2. Vitamin C: guavas, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits, cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, cauliflower

Read more about Myth vs Fact: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Vitamin C.

3. Vitamin E: almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, olive oil, butternut squash, pumpkin, olives, nuts

4. Beta Carotene: basil, chives, asparagus, passion fruit, watercress, leeks, zucchini

Read more about Veggie Anatomy 101: Carrots.

5. Flavonoids: onions, apples, all berries, quinoa, cabbage, watermelon, garbanzo beans, black or green tea.

Those are the top five richest sources of antioxidants, but the real beauty of antioxidants is they are found in all plant based foods. Leafy greens alone are filled with vitamins A, C, K, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin and flavonoids. Everything that grows from the earth has free radical fighting molecules. So don't worry about supplements or antioxidant loaded drinks. If you eat smart and load up on plant based foods, your body will do the rest for you.

Related Blog Posts

5 winter superfoods for more energy

plant foods that boost your energy

5 plant-based foods to ease anxiety

foods that help your body produce collagen naturally

5 hacks for a plant-based july 4th bbq

snacks: eat this, not that!

5 high protein veggies to add to your diet 

fresh is not always best: 4 surprising benefits of frozen food

5 ways plants power us in 2021

5 easy and healthy vegan holiday side dishes 

benefits of fermented foods for gut health

tofu: is it good or bad for you?

the surprising benefits of chocolate for health and well-being

benefits of eating beans

5 easy plant-based substitutes

3 easy vegan recipes for dinner

5 delicious and refreshing vegan summer beverages

5 advantages of plant-based diets for children

use this one hack to make going vegan easy 

here’s how a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes 

easy plant-based breakfast ideas

6 reasons why veestro is the best vegan meal delivery service

eat these 5 foods to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals

how protein and fiber help digestion and muscle recovery (and where to get them on a plant based diet)

how to stay hydrated this summer

5 foods that are good for your gut health

5 plant-based foods for better sleep

when cravings hit; eat this, not that!

5 superfoods that help boost immunity

5 real superfoods + 3 that are all hype

not all carbs are created equal: complex vs. simple carbs

5 foods for beautiful skin

breakfast: eat this, not that

top 5 mood-boosting foods to add to your diet

how can eating more plants help your heart? 3 benefits

5 health-boosting spices

here’s why the body thrives on carbs

the power of choosing beans over beef

how to boost your immune system for the cold and flu season

is oat milk healthy?

what you eat can impact climate change

an easy approach to reducing your risk of breast cancer

why does magnesium matter? 5 magnesium-rich foods

3 simple tips for losing weight starting today

deaths linked to heart disease are on the rise: here’s how a plant-based diet can help

your second brain - tips for a healthier gut

microwaves and nutrition: do microwaves kill our food?

eat these 5 foods to stay hydrated this summer

allergic to soy? these are 7 non-soy sources of protein

think fresh meals are better than frozen? think again!

what 1,500 calories looks like on a plant-based diet

5 foods to avoid

your sugar detox guide

3 tips to lose weight on a plant-based diet

are you vitamin d deficient?

here’s what happens to your body on a juice cleanse

don't like what you see in the mirror? these 3 things are ruining your skin.

bad diets are responsible for more deaths than smoking

war on waste: are fresh veggies healthier than frozen?

got milk? the dairy industry’s mass deception

what happens to your body when you go vegan?

how easily can the pope go vegan?

supercharge your sex life

is it possible to prevent and reverse disease?

detox your body

eating your way through diabetes

eating healthy doesn’t have to be scary - 5 simple tips

breaking up with caffeine

the most unusual facts about berries

debunked: 5 myths about veganism

can you get enough protein from plants?

5 foods you should never eat

spotlight on: activated charcoal

5 superfoods for women's health

ancient remedies we use today

five magnesium-rich foods for stress relief

why detox?

10 ways to sneak in more veggies

5 surprising benefits of coconut oil

high fiber foods you can snack on

mushrooms—the vegetable that never was

myth vs fact: 5 things you didn't know about vitamin c

plant-based aphrodisiacs that work

5 heart-healthy foods

8 underrated veggies & why you should be eating them

#yeswecan challenge - setting yourself up for fitness success

probiotics - your best friend around the holidays

5 easy ways to detox after overindulging

holiday spotlight: pumpkin

the key benefits of juicing

should you take supplements?

veggie anatomy 101: carrots

is plant-based good for kids?

good carbs vs. bad carbs

5 organic oils for health and beauty

food facts: tomatoes

frozen vs. fresh: know your veggies

10 seasonal superfoods

5 summer foods to keep you hydrated

how much water should you really drink?

stone fruit: five favorites for summer

men's health month: five plant-based benefits for men

5 protein-packed veggies

10 foods that boost your brain

five concerns about plant-based calories

vitamin d: essential like the sun

is soy good or bad for men?

12 foods to keep your heart happy

the sweet truth about sugar: myths and facts

get grounded with this winter superfood

5 things to eat for a strong immune system

sodium's effects on health and weight

how to: make winter eating your healthiest

5 winter squashes you need for better health right now

halloween inspired veggies to help you live longer

fat vs. sugar: the battle rages on

the soybean saga: myths and facts

5 reasons to fall in love with kale all over again

five reasons to get your calcium from plants

top reasons to have an apple a day

meeting your nutritional needs with veestro

just how important is breakfast?

food facts: watermelon

plant based protein to keep you satisfied

rockin the rhubarb

iodine on a vegan diet

the truth behind antioxidants and food

eat your greens

do you get enough energy from your food?

healthy snacking tips for you & your kiddos

how to manage your allergies

is it a flower or a vegetable: discover the artichoke

leaders in plant-based nutrition

6 foods that help reduce inflammation

noodles, pasta, spaghetti, hoorah!

celebrating national frozen food month

why be meatless?

jane esselstyn on women's heart health

healthy superbowl ideas


pulses - the superfood that always has bean

2016 resolution for health

cooking without oil

it's all about the pomegranate

how to have a healthy holiday

grains to protect your immune system this winter

movember, prostate cancer, and your diet

linking breast cancer and diet

pumpkin seeds and their health benefits

turmeric and it's powerful benefits

growing edamame & health benefits of soy

pumped for peppers!

what's sugar doing to us?

benefits of basil

plant-based nutrition and obesity in children

benefits of raw foods

lower your cholesterol the easy way. eat more fiber.

red, white, & blue can be healthy for you!

nih guide: how to lower blood pressure with a dash eating plan

happy father's day - how's that prostate?

vitamin b-12 in the vegan diet

pea it out!

stop the madness! treat heart disease with a healthy diet -- not drugs!

world health day & connection to vegan diet

cabbage - it's history, use, and nutritional benefit

want to lower your cholesterol? a pill is not a magic bullet!

are you at risk for heart disease?

losing your mind? try these memory boosting superfoods!

can eating more veggies save your eyesight?

don't have breakfast without one of these three!