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

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

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

your sugar detox guide

are you vitamin d deficient?

juice cleanse success plan

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

top 5 benefits of a detox diet to reset yourself

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?

what difference can one person make by going vegan?

how easily can the pope go vegan?

supercharge your sex life

is it possible to prevent and reverse disease?

5 ways plants power us in 2019

detox your body

lose weight simply: eat smart

4 reasons plant-based eating helps with weight loss

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

the most unusual facts about berries

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

5 plant-based foods that help you lose weight

five magnesium-rich foods for stress relief

why detox?

10 ways to sneak in more veggies

high fiber foods you can snack on

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

probiotics - your best friend around the holidays

5 winter superfoods for more energy

5 easy ways to detox after overindulging

the key benefits of juicing

should you take supplements?

veggie anatomy 101: carrots

is plant-based good for kids?

are plant milks good for you?

good carbs vs. bad carbs

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?

plant foods that boost your energy

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

5 protein-packed veggies

five concerns about plant-based calories

is soy good or bad for men?

sodium's effects on health and weight

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

top reasons to have an apple a day

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

is it a flower or a vegetable: discover the artichoke

foods that fool you

root down with your root veggies

6 foods that help reduce inflammation

cacao for your loved ones


pulses-the superfood that always has bean

cooking without oil

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

benefits of raw foods

check out cherries!

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

eat more dark chocolate and lower your blood pressure!

beans v. beef: an infographic

boost your healthy gut bacteria with plant-based foods

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

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

a plant-based diet is key to controlling diabetes

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

are you at risk for heart disease?

can eating more veggies save your eyesight?

don't have breakfast without one of these three!