When reading this title you probably think: hey, I've heard of antioxidants.
And that actually makes sense because a lot has been written about antioxidants in recent years. Various studies show that they contain super powerful substances that protect your body against free radicals, these are dangerous particles that cause damage in your body.
So you know that antioxidants are important for a healthy body, but do you know why? And do you know in which foods you can find them?
- The impact of oxygen
- Antioxidants fight free radicals
- The source of antioxidants
- Antioxidants in food
- Main sources of antioxidants
- What types of antioxidants are there?
The impact of oxygen: the example of an apple
Before I tell you which foods contain the highest dose of antioxidants, let's first consider why antioxidants are so important.
When you read about antioxidants, the example of an apple often comes up: if you cut an apple in half, it will discolor after a while. That's because the oxygen in the air causes the apple's cells to oxidize, causing damage. If you put lemon juice, an antioxidant, on the apple, it will not discolor.
The same thing happens in our body: oxidation damages the cells and as a result you are more likely to experience premature aging or numerous diseases. Do you want to protect your body against oxidation? Then it is important to get enough antioxidants. The example of the apple is simple, but you immediately understand why antioxidants are so important. :-)
Antioxidants fight free radicals
Did you know that our body produces a small amount of free radicals on its own? These are dangerous substances that can cause damage to your body. Now you're probably thinking: oh, that's not good?
Actually it is not dangerous because free radicals are constantly formed in our body. In fact, you even need some free radicals to fight viruses. Certain free radicals bind to a pathogen and this way your body is kept healthy. Your body is also perfectly capable of neutralizing most free radicals.
When are free radicals dangerous? There are many factors such as smoking, polluted air, fine dust, UV radiation, poor nutrition, alcohol, make-up or stress that cause too many free radicals to form in our body.
When there is an excess of free radicals in the body, we speak of oxidative stress. Because there are so many bad substances, they will also bind to healthy cells. Then it becomes dangerous: when free radicals bind to healthy cells, oxidation occurs. This has many negative consequences for your health: cancer, heart disease, diabetes or rheumatic diseases are linked to free radicals.
The source of antioxidants: healthy food, skin care or supplements?
Antioxidants are therefore crucial to our health and manufacturers take advantage of that. Nowadays you can find antioxidants not only in food but also in skin care, vitamin preparations or even drinks. If you believe the description of these products, they contain a high dose of antioxidants.
It is still best to get antioxidants naturally through food. Antioxidants are artificially added to supplements or skin care, and that is definitely not the same as the antioxidants found naturally in healthy foods.
Antioxidants in food
To counteract the process of oxidation, make sure you get enough antioxidants. Antioxidants are mainly found in fruit and vegetables, but also in nuts, certain herbs and even in dark chocolate. I'll list the most important sources of antioxidants for you.
And the prize for the most important source goes to… matcha ! I often tell you about the benefits of this wonder powder, but did you know that matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea? Because you drink the entire leaf you get all the healthy substances, which you don't have with green tea.
Another fact: according to research, matcha contains exponentially more antioxidants than any fruit or vegetable, even more than blueberries or pomegranate (and these are the best-known sources of antioxidants!) Try it yourself, order your jar via our webshop .
2. Fruits and vegetables
I don't have to tell you that fruit and vegetables are healthy, but they are also an important source of antioxidants. Vegetables with a high dose of antioxidants include onions, cauliflower, tomato, broccoli, beets, artichokes, white cabbage… and so on, the list is endless!
For fruit, blueberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries, acai berries and pears score well.
Nuts are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. And they are also an important source of antioxidants, another reason to eat a handful of nuts every day. Walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds… the choice is yours!
Many herbs contain a large dose of antioxidants. Cloves, turmeric , oregano, parsley, basil... that's why I love to cook with spices myself. More flavor and more antioxidants! :-)
ORAC top 10: the main sources of antioxidants
Need some inspiration for your next meal? The ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) compares different foods based on their antioxidant content . You can see that cloves, sumac, cinnamon and sorghum occupy a top spot on the list. Something to think about when you run out of inspiration.
Below I will give you an overview of the most important superfoods. Take a look at the ORAC value of matcha...
What types of antioxidants are there?
Antioxidants is a collective name for vitamins C & E, beta-carotene, glutathione, the trace elements selenium and zinc and substances such as flavonoids. There are therefore several types, each with its own specific advantages.
Flavonoids, for example, are plant substances that mainly occur in tea, dark chocolate, fruit and vegetables. It is these substances that give color to fruit and vegetables, and they are also super powerful antioxidants because they have an oxidation-inhibiting effect.
Vitamin C & E is mainly obtained from fruit and vegetables, it contributes to good resistance and is important for your metabolism.
Conclusion: antioxidants are super substances
We absolutely cannot avoid free radicals and we even need a particle.
But as with everything, excess causes damage, so it is best to avoid the main causes (think of stress, unhealthy diet, pollution, fine dust, smoking or UV radiation.)
If you avoid these things as much as possible and eat healthier, you will get enough antioxidants and protect your body against harmful substances.