What are ANTIOXIDANTS?
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
What are ANTIOXIDANTS? What are FREE RADICALS? How do antioxidants stabilise free radicals? What are the sources of free radicals and the types of antioxidants? Let us ask science for answers.
To understand the role of ANTIOXIDANTS, we need to first understand what are FREE RADICALS.
What are FREE RADICALS?
Free radical atoms or molecules are a waste product that our body produces as results of chemical reactions. Their sources could be internal or external. For example, since our body is under constant attack from oxidative stress, oxygen splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. These oxygen atoms (free radicals) are highly unstable and travel throughout the body in search of an electron to stabilise themselves. They try stealing electrons from healthy cells. The result is a chain reaction until all the free radicals are stabilised. In the process of getting electrons, free radicals may cause extensive damage to DNA and cells. Free radicals are also linked to accelerated ageing, cancer, heart diseases etc.
What are ANTIOXIDANTS?
Antioxidants are substances that help stabilise free radicals. They are produced inside the body and are also found in food. Antioxidants work by giving electrons to the unstable free radicals and help them stabilise. Once the free radicals are stabilised, they no longer seek electrons from healthy cells. Thus, antioxidants help spare healthy cells from damage.
What are the sources of FREE RADICALS?
Free radicals may be internally produced internally (inside the body) or maybe introduced externally. The major sources of free radicals are as follows:
Essential metabolic processes.
Consumption of alcohol.
Exposure to tobacco smoke.
What are the different types of ANTIOXIDANTS?
Antioxidants are naturally produced in the body and are also found in food. The following are the major types of antioxidants:
#1 Glutathione: Produced naturally in the body as well as found in foods like whey protein, spinach, okra, asparagus, avocado, non pasteurised milk etc.
#2 Alpha-lipoic acid: Produced naturally in the body and also found in foods like broccoli, spinach, tomato, organ meat etc.
#3 Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin found in foods like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, green pepper, red pepper, spinach etc.
#4 Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin found in foods like almond, spinach, pumpkin, peanut, sunflower seed, avocado etc.
#5 Beta carotene: A fat-soluble organic compound and is found in foods like – spinach, lettuce, red pepper, broccoli etc.
#6 Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin found in food like – egg yolk, milk, organ meat etc.
#7 Trace elements like selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc: Found in almond, spinach, meat, dark chocolate etc.
#8 Zoochemicals: Found in seafood, meat, organ meat etc.
#9 Allium sulphur compounds: Found in garlic, onion, shallot, leek etc.
#10 Cryptoxanthins: Found in orange, pumpkin, red pepper etc.
#11 Anthocyanins: Found in red cabbage, red radish, eggplant, blueberry etc.
#12 Catechins: Found in green tea, black tea, strawberry, cocoa etc.
#13 Polyphenols: Found in dark chocolate, cocoa, clove, strawberry etc.
#14 Lycopene: Found in tomato, red pepper, red cabbage, asparagus etc.
#15 Isoflavones: Found in peanut, almond, milk, soy products etc.
#16 Flavonoids: Found in green tea, black tea, onion, tomato, lettuce etc.
#17 Lutein: Found in broccoli, lettuce, kale, spinach etc.
#18 Indoles: Found in cabbage, cauliflower, kale etc.
#19 Lignans: Found in sesame seed, flax seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed etc.
All the food source antioxidants are also available as dietary supplements.
To minimise damage caused by free radicals, eat foods that are high in antioxidants or have potent supplements for the same.
Free radicals are a waste product that our body produces as results of chemical reactions. Their sources could be internal or external.
Free radicals are unstable and travel throughout the body to find an electron and stabilise themselves.
Antioxidants help stabilise free radicals by sharing electrons.
Antioxidants are produced by the body and are also available in the food we eat.
Now we know what are Antioxidants & Free Radicals, their major sources and the importance of Antioxidants.