Cabbage, Kale & Confusion: Why antioxidants are important…

Antioxidant is a term that’s thrown around more and more these days, but what actually is an antioxidant?

According to the National Cancer Institute, an antioxidant is “A substance that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals.” Free radicals, in short, are molecules that are highly reactive with other cellular structures and can cause damage to parts of cells such as DNA. The breakdown of this DNA can cause a variety of conditions including; arthritis, acceleration of the ageing process, as well as certain cancers as it affects the cells from being able to function normally.

This is where antioxidants come in! The antioxidants look for free radicals from body cells and work to prevent or reduce the damage they cause, they do this by sharing molecules to stabilize them, this means the free radical no longer needs to steal electrons from the DNA.

While antioxidants are compounds your body makes naturally, they are also really easy to incorporate into your diet, to help neutralise free radicals and reduce the risk of different conditions. In fact, they are in the majority of fruit and vegetables! With the sun finally making an appearance, now is the perfect time for that little kick too!

You don’t have to go crazy but following the guidelines to eat your 5 a day really gives your body the boost it needs to battle free radicals and anything else flying around your body.

A simple way of remembering your fruit and veg is to ‘eat the rainbow’, this way your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy and fighting fit.

Here are our favourite antioxidant-rich foods:

  • Strawberries
  • Pecans
  • Mango
  • Onions
  • Cherries
  • And of course everyone’s favourite superfood- blueberries!

Published by Emily Preston

Sources

https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/antioxidant

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11291

https://hopes.stanford.edu/about-free-radical-damage/