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If you've been watching the news, reading the health section of the newspaper, or even glancing at product packaging, chances are you've seen someone touting the benefits of antioxidants. Your home might be full of products that advertise them as chock full of these substances. But is that a good thing? Why is everyone suddenly so interested in antioxidants? What are they and what do they do for you if you eat them? We'll answer your questions on antioxidants in this article.
Simply put, an antioxidant is a substance that stops or slows the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical process where a molecule loses some of its electrons to another substance known as an oxidizing agent. Once its electrons are gone it becomes what is known as a free radical and can then go around stealing electrons from other molecules and creating more free radicals. You can pick up oxidizing agents anywhere, from doing catering in church to having a snack in front of the TV and they can cause your body's cells to die.
When you take in an antioxidant it neutralizes the oxidizing agent before it has a chance to cause damage to your cells. This can slow or prevent normal cell damage associated with activities like exercise and aging and perhaps even inhibit the growth of cancer. For this reason many people ask for antioxidant treatments at the spa and take antioxidant supplements. However, research is still being conducted on their effects. Some studies have shown that taking supplements actually increases some types of cancer risk.
Substances that are classes as antioxidants include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and lycopene. These substances can be found in supplements as well as in food. Since antioxidants' role in cancer is up for debate, currently your best choice is to stick with foods containing antioxidants rather than taking supplement pills. Keeping the cupboards of your home full of a balance (not an abundance) of foods containing these substances can help you stay healthy. Like anything else, moderation is key.
Foods that a rich in anti-oxidants include anything orange, such as carrots, squash, and mangos as well as leafy green vegetables such as spinach. Other foods containing anti-oxidants tomatoes, pink grapefruit, guava, watermelon, rice, Brazil nuts, liver, milk, egg yolks, mozzarella cheese, almonds, corn, soybeans and broccoli. So you see, there are so many foods containing the various antioxidants that it's easy to keep full of antioxidants. Even being a vegetarian will not make getting enough antioxidants a challenge. In fact, vegetarians tend to eat more antioxidants than omnivores, since most antioxidants come from plants. You can also click here to learn more about the benefits of antioxidants.