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What are antioxidants? And why do we need them?

We've all heard of antioxidants and that they're good for us, but what are they and what makes them so amazing?

A free radical refers to an atom or molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons, making these atoms or molecules highly reactive. These are formed in the body due to exposure from pollution, chemicals, stress, drugs and in the defense against microbes. Free radicals in the body also produce more free radicals.

Free radicals attack cells in the body, stealing electrons. This causes damage to the cells and has been attributed as a contributing and causative factor in a variety of health conditions.

Antioxidant compounds control and eliminate free radicals. Therefore, antioxidants can assist in many health conditions and are necessary to consume every day, to improve overall health. Antioxidants are excellent to improve vitality and slow the ageing process.

Generally, high antioxidant containing foods are foods that are fresh, natural and organic. Many nutrients that have antioxidant properties reduce in foods the longer they are stored, the more they are treated with chemicals and the more processed they are.

By eating a natural diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and good quality animal products, you will be consuming high antioxidant containing foods naturally, every day.

Some of the key antioxidants in the body and major sources of the nutrient are:

  • Vitamin C
    • Berries
    • Citrus
    • Capsicum
  • Zinc
    • Nuts and seeds (cashewsm pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds)
    • Egg yolk
    • Wholegrains
  • Copper
    • Wholegrains
    • Oysters
    • Almonds
  • Vitamin E
    • Wheatgerm
    • Egg yolk
    • Beef
  • Carotenoids
    • Carrots
    • Capsicum
    • Sweet potato
  • CoQ10
    • Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel)
    • Soy beans
    • Almonds, hazelnuts
  • Bioflavonoids
    • Citrus
    • Buckwheat
  • Glutathione
    • Eggs
    • Garlic
    • Made from the amino acids cysteine, glutamine and glycine, so sources of complete proteins
  • Selenium
    • Brazil nuts
    • Eggs
    • Seafood (crab, mackerel, oysters, tuna)

This article was written by:

Renee Ollis
Jetts Woolloongabba
Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy)
Cert III in Fitness


What do you think?