Antioxidants are a group of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that protect the cells in our body from free radicals. These harmful free radicals can damage the cells and impair the immune system, which can lead to a number of conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. The health benefits of antioxidants are numerous, and can provide us with a longer, healthier life.
1. Antioxidants Boost the Immune System
Many clinical research studies have shown that antioxidants play a major role in keeping our immune system strong. This is important when fighting viruses, germs and other harmful substances. Our immune systems depend on antioxidants to stabilize harmful molecules, such as free radicals.
Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants can greatly improve our immune responses. Antioxidants – such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene – protect immune responses when exposed to harmful environmental sources of free radicals, such as smoking, pollution, excessive sunlight and toxins. During the winter months when our immune system is at its weakest, and therefore more susceptible to allowing us to get the cold or flu, antioxidants can give us the boost we need to fight these viruses.
2. Antioxidants Help Slow Down the Aging Process
Aging involves a process of oxidizing. The oxidation of our organs contribute to faster aging. Antioxidants come into play by slowing this aging process. They do this by breaking the chain reaction of free radicals. Antioxidants block the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. By preventing and slowing down the oxidation on major organs in the body, aging is delayed.
3. Antioxidants Reduce the Physical Signs of Aging
Aside from our organs being attacked by free radicals, our skin is also vulnerable, which will physically show the signs of aging. Studies suggest that antioxidants slow down the physical signs of aging by reducing wrinkles and preserving the skin’s natural health. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, actually protect the skin from sun damage, and can actually reduced sunburn by up to 20 percent.
4. Antioxidants Help Prevent Degenerative Diseases
Probably the greatest benefit of antioxidants are their ability to help prevent life-threatening conditions. The free radicals that are major culprits against cells in our bodies are a big factor in the development of these conditions. Since antioxidants neutralize these free radials, they also help to fight off these diseases, such as:
- Heart Disease
Sources of Antioxidants
The best sources of antioxidants come in the form of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Colors to look for are mainly green, red, yellow, orange and purple. The main vitamins involved in these fruits and vegetables are vitamins A, E and beta-carotene. Antioxidants in the form of supplements have benefits as well, although the benefit of fresh fruits and vegetables is unsurpassed. A well-balanced diet, which includes antioxidants in the form of whole foods, is ideal in maintaining a long, healthy life.