what do antioxidants actually do

What are antioxidants?

You may have heard the term “antioxidant” before but may not know what exactly it means. I will break down this term in a very simple way that doesn’t require too much brainpower or knowledge of organic chemistry to understand.

Basics of Antioxidants

Antioxidants act as a donor to stabilize free radicals, the harmful by-products of the body’s energy-making machinery. Free radicals can also be obtained from the food we eat, from the air we breathe in, and also from UV rays. Our bodies contain numerous happy, stable molecules and angry, unstable molecules (the free radicals). This is where antioxidants play an important role. They donate their electrons to the unstable free radical so our happy, stable molecules don’t have to. We want to keep our happy molecules happy and turn those nasty free radicals into happy molecules so our DNA doesn’t get damaged and our bodies can perform on an optimal level. Here’s what this looks like in our body (basic chemistry you guys):

There are many different substances that can act as an antioxidant. The ones we are most familiar with are vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Others include (stay with me) glutathione, phenols, polyphenols, and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is the best way to get antioxidants in and free radicals out. My favorite source of antioxidants is DARK CHOCOLATE. I personally don’t worry about making sure I get a “daily dose” of antioxidants in a day. But rather I focus on eating nutritious foods that I love that will give me optimal fuel + health. While eating a cup of berries or sipping on a matcha latte, I think about 1. how amazing it tastes and 2. how cool it is that I’m fueling my body with the nutrients it needs- including antioxidants and their amazing chemistry.

Foods High In Antioxidants:

Berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, goji berries

Matcha

Dark chocolate

Pecan + walnuts

Dark green veggies: spinach + kale Artichoke

(cooked) Apples

Cherries Prunes

Beans: red, kidney, pinto

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