You often hear that fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The use of vitamins is not in doubt, but the antioxidant situation is more complicated. They are necessary for the body like the air, without these substances, a person gets sick and quickly fades away. Let’s find out what these useful substances are, why they are so necessary for a person, and what foods contain antioxidants most of them.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that slow down the oxidation process. Sometimes the term “antioxidants” is used as a synonym for “preservatives” because antioxidants in food help them stay fresh longer and prevent bacteria from multiplying.
Oxidation is a chemical process involving oxygen. In fact, oxidation is destruction. Aging is largely due to natural oxidation processes, but antioxidant nutrients can slow down aging. The oxidation process is known to form free radicals that affect cell membranes, disrupting their protection. As a result, cells in the body lose their ability to regenerate quickly, and a person ages prematurely.
The human body provides a whole range of antioxidant protection. It involves primary antioxidants – enzymes, and secondary antioxidants – nutrients. Every person has this protection from birth, but with age it weakens and needs to be fed more and more acutely.
What effect do antioxidants have on the body?
The primary form of antioxidants that are contained in tissues of the human body are enzymes. They remove the active oxygen forms from the body, turning them into hydrogen peroxide, less active radicals, useful oxygen or water. Vitamins act in the same way, they prevent free radicals from destroying the body tissues. The difference between the first and second group of antioxidants is that enzymes are always contained in body tissues, while vitamins need to be replenished through food.
What antioxidants exist?
Chemical trace elements: selenium, zinc. They support the normal functioning of the immune system and metabolism, protect the body from heavy metals, participate in the process of cell regeneration.
Water-soluble vitamins: C, P. Strengthen the cardiovascular system, provide the body with resistance to infections, bacteria and other adverse environmental factors.
Fat-soluble vitamins: A, E, K, beta-carotene. They improve visual acuity, maintain the health of mucous membranes, rejuvenate the skin and improve the condition of hair.
Amino acids with sulfur content. Slow down the aging of the body, promote rapid cell regeneration.
Antioxidants also include a substance such as lutein, a vitamin vital to the eyes. It helps maintain visual acuity and protects the eyes from the harmful effects of ultraviolet. In small amounts, lutein is found in yellow and red foods.
Flavonoids and tannins that come into the body with food and beverages also have the ability to resist the action of free radicals. Antioxidants enhance each other’s action, so the more they are in food and the more diverse the “set” of such substances, the more reliable they work.
Lack of antioxidants
If you constantly feel weak, quickly tired, easily irritated – you may lack these useful vitamins and trace elements that support the body, protect its aging and infections. Another sign of antioxidant deficiency is pallor. The skin becomes pale and the cheeks lose their blush.
A person suffering from a shortage of antioxidants is immersed in apathy – the endocrine and nervous system cannot function properly. And since the immune system is weakened, a person often has infectious diseases.
However, there are too many good things too: besides the lack of antioxidants, there is an oversupply of them. It is impossible to achieve an overabundance with food: the trace elements contained in the food are well digested by the body and are easily excreted. Another thing, if you take vitamin complexes, then it is possible to overdose. Each of the substances has its own symptoms of too high concentration in the blood, many conditions can be dangerous: for example, an excess of vitamin A. Therefore, carefully follow the regime of taking vitamins, indicated on the package.
In order not to suffer from a shortage of beneficial substances that support youth and health, it is necessary to ensure their intake into the body with food. And to do this, you need to know what foods contain antioxidants.
The list of products rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants in food are not contained in the same concentration. Meat and dairy products contain little of these substances, but they are rich in plant foods: nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables.
Cranberries. This sour berry contains a large number of antioxidants. Its benefits for a person can hardly be overestimated: regular consumption of small portions of cranberries improves the condition of nails and hair, improves mood, promotes healthy work of the gastrointestinal tract, provides strong immunity and normal functioning of the nervous system.
Blueberries. This delicious berry has a choleretic and diuretic effect, its inclusion in the diet allows the body to effectively fight inflammation and infection.
Bilberry. If you want to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, eat blackberry regularly. At the same time, you will have great gums, and that gums can bleed, you will know only from toothpaste advertising.
Plums. If you like plums – consider yourself lucky, because these fruits can activate the body, remove excess bile and reduce the temperature if you are sick. Prunes are no less useful: they strengthen blood vessels, normalize metabolism and the gastrointestinal tract.
Raspberry. Sweet red berry is rich in useful trace elements, so it can be used as a tasty prophylactic agent against infections and colds.
Strawberry. This berry is attributed to the ability to improve sexual function, but these claims are almost unconfirmed. But scientists have proved that strawberries have a beneficial effect on brain function.
Apples. The more often you treat yourself to apples, the more firm and beautiful your skin will look.
Fresh fruit is the most delicious and pleasant way to provide the body with nutrients, but antioxidants are also found in vegetables. Most of them are in red beans: include it in your diet, and it will help strengthen muscles, cleanse the body and strengthen the immune system.
The second place in the content of antioxidants is given to potatoes. Its inclusion in the diet will strengthen blood vessels and improve liver function. It is also useful to eat fresh cabbage regularly. It will help to increase work capacity and preserve the health of the nervous system. Another vegetable is spinach, a record-breaker in the amount of useful substances.
If you have found symptoms of antioxidant deficiency, include in the menu dishes based on red pepper, beet, onion and pumpkin. Slightly less useful substances of this group are contained in carrots and zucchini, but a lot of antioxidants in nuts. If you want to rejuvenate your body, restore its ability to quickly recover, regularly buy such delicacies as hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios. Plants and herbs are another source of antioxidants, so you can improve your health by taking decoction from the root of medicinal ginger.