You’ve probably heard about antioxidants and their positive effects on human health. Every health, wellness or nutrition article mentions them in one way or another.
You hear words like ORAC values and free radicals, but what are these super-powerful compounds called antioxidants? How do they help the body fight inflammations and illnesses? And more importantly - why are they so good for you and where can you find them?
Many of the healthiest foods on the planet are packed with antioxidants. They help the immune system fight toxins coming from food and environmental sources and prevent premature aging.
Curious to find out more about antioxidants and their health benefits? Keep reading to discover which foods contain the highest amounts and how you can incorporate them in your diet.
Antioxidants are stable molecules that prevent the process of oxidation in other unstable molecules. Oxidation as a chemical reaction is harmful because once a molecule oxidizes, it turns into a free radical.
Free radicals can form chains and together damage healthy cells and wreak chaos in the body. Some of the consequences of them rummaging through the system are cell-level inflammations, diseases, premature aging and even cancer.
In normal amounts, free radicals are actually beneficial and help the body fight off bacterial and viral infections. It’s when their numbers grow exponentially that they cause damage.
Some of the main factors causing abnormal production of free radicals are:
Antioxidants are stable molecules while free radicals are unstable ones. Once a stable molecule loses an electron, it turns into a free radical. To reverse the process, antioxidants donate a molecule to free radicals and thus neutralize them, preventing them from doing further damage.
While the human body produces some amounts of antioxidants, they usually come from food. The amount of antioxidants in food is measured through their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC score).
For example, berries are among the top sources of antioxidants, but coffee and dark chocolate are not far behind. Some vitamins like C and E are powerful antioxidants themselves. Beta-carotene is another nutrient with strong antioxidant properties.
It’s important to note that too much antioxidant activity in the body can also be harmful. The key is to maintain a healthy balance. With all the hype surrounding antioxidants, people are inclined to consume them through supplements.
In fact, eating a healthy diet rich in superfoods is enough. Too many antioxidants can speed up oxidative damage instead of preventing it.
Chemical compounds in food are perfectly synced to work for your body’s chemical processes. If you can get antioxidants through food, there’s no need for supplements. Most of them don’t even work properly and fail to do their protective job in the metabolism.
Leading a modern, fast-paced lifestyle, especially in developed countries often goes hand in hand with eating unhealthy.
People have less time to cook hearty meals and go out to eat or grab something on the go. Fast food is especially problematic due to being overly processed and full of additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
The good news is, coffee is one of the main sources of antioxidants in the Western diet, according to some studies. In fact, a large number of Americans get their daily antioxidant intake through their daily cup of java. This is because their average diet doesn’t include as many fruits as vegetables.
Check out our Peace and Wellness collection of hemp oil infused coffees for a surge of antioxidants and a morning pick-me up. Hemp oil contains a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
The fruits in this list have very high ORAC score and are abundant in antioxidants:
These vegetables and legumes are a significant source of antioxidants:
A large variety of nuts, grains and seeds contain high amounts of antioxidants:
Few animal-based foods contain antioxidants, but the biggest sources are:
Like with anything else, antioxidants are only useful when taken in balanced dosages. Unless there’s a specific or medical reason, there’s no need of supplements and pills.
Considering the dynamic lives we lead today, paying attention to our diet and taking care of our body is essential.
Going out in fresh air, implementing as many superfoods into your diet as possible and keeping stress at bay are all important factors for optimal health.
Ready to start living a more balanced lifestyle? Start by making a can making a wellness plan you’ll actually follow.
To get articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.
Author Bio: Frosina is a freelance writer for hire specializing in lifestyle, health and wellness topics. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her savoring new coffees, learning all about digital marketing and dreaming of Italy. You can learn more about Frosina at www.figsproutcreative.com, on
LinkedIn and Twitter.
MYTH #1: COFFEE IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE
The biggest, most widespread myth about coffee is that it’s highly addictive.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker and suddenly stop consuming caffeine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like mild headaches or slight changes in mood and focus. However, in most cases, these go away after a day or two and your body continues its normal metabolic functions.
What many view as coffee addiction is in fact the body’s tolerance to caffeine and its ability to metabolize it. Most people know their daily caffeine limits and rarely go past them.
If you’re a coffee lover, you can probably distinguish between specialty and commodity coffee with your eyes closed. Your palate recognizes the bean type, tasting notes and intensity as soon as you take the first sip. Yes, this probably makes you a coffee snob, but there's no shame in being a connoisseur and appreciating nice things!
The problem with mainstream coffees is not only the origin, but also quality. They’re bland, bitter, sour, and the freshness is questionable. This type of bad coffee is cheap and easily available at supermarkets and many chain coffee shops.
Americans spend $40 billion on coffee each year and 65% of coffee drinkers have their first cup in the morning with breakfast. This helps them wake up and get enough energy and brainpower to start the day.
For many people, it’s fuel that keeps them focused and productive throughout the day.
But did you know you can use your coffee grounds for more than just brewing coffee? They can be useful for your garden, kitchen, pets, and even your body.