What are antioxidants?
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits other molecules from getting oxidized. Oxidation is undesirable because the process can form free radicals which can cause cell death. Free radicals are problematic because one is formed, they create a chain reaction that allows the formation of even more free radicals. Antioxidants are able to capture these intermediates and prevent more free radicals from being formed (Source).
Why should we eat them?
As antioxidants are able to stop additional free radical formation and inhibit oxidative stress in our bodies, they are desirable to consume. In fact, oxidative stress is thought to promote diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has yet to be determined if these diseases are caused due to oxidative stress or if oxidative stress is a side effect of the diseases. However, oxidative stress has been definitively linked to the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease (This shows you where you can read all the original studies).
Best sources of antioxidants
A paper came out in 2004 in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry that examined the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of more than 100 foods. Of the foods examined, the foods with the top ten highest TAC were (in decreasing order):
Small Red Beans
Red Kidney Beans
Red Delicious Apples
Although we commonly think of fruits and vegetables as being high in antioxidants, some of the foods, such as kidney beans, may come as a surprise.
Look forward to
In the next several posts, I will focus on each food listed about and discuss its health benefits in detail. Also, I will share links to recipes to help you incorporate these foods into your diet as part of a healthy and delicious dish!
Did any of the foods on the list surprise you? What is your favorite way to eat any of the listed foods?