We constantly hear about them. Superfoods are packed with them. We know they’re good for us, but why? Here’s our top 5 reasons we’re crazy for antioxidants and think you should be too:
Brain Boosting– As much as we’d like to ignore it, we experience a decline in brain function as we age. But, there’s hope! Studies show a link between less cognitive decline and higher intakes of antioxidants, like vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and selenium.
Slows Aging– Sun exposure, in addition to genetics, effects how are skin ages. Webs of antioxidant-reliant defense systems underneath our skin help to fight sun damage when fed even more of these powerhouse ingredients. Vitamin C increases collagen protection, evens pigmentation and improves inflammation- lessening the suns effect on aging.
Immune Enhancing– Oxidant-antioxidant balance is a crucial factor in how well our immune cells function and these cells are actually extra sensitive to stress. Antioxidants help trigger cell processes and reactions that can both enhance and improve our immunity system
Exercise Recovery – Did you know exercise increases stress on the body? Whether the long-term effects of an active lifestyle negate this or not, why not try to do our part in the kitchen? Some researchers suggest athletes help counteract this process by increasing fruit and vegetable intake, therefore antioxidant intake, to 8-15 cups/day! Phew, that’s a lot!
Disease-fighting– Most chronic diseases can be attributed to the accumulation of stress and inflammation in the body over time, some avoidable and some not. The unavoidable stress is natural, but antioxidant intake may help to prevent, delay, or reverse the onset of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.
In all cases, antioxidants help to “neutralize” free radicals, or unstable molecules that cause damage (oxidative stress) to cells, tissues, and DNA. Antioxidants can be found in vitamins A, C, and E, minerals, likes selenium, zinc, and copper, and phytonutrients, including lycopene, lutein, and lignans. To get these nutrients, fill up on plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, and nuts and always remember, food should come first! Supplements aren’t always as effective as the whole foods itself, so its best to eat a variety of foods to reach optimum intake and only rely on supplements when you need to.