You’ve heard you need to eat more foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries, apples, and bean sprouts. These superfoods promote good health and prevent disease. But to the average person, what does that really mean?
To use a loose analogy, think of your body like a car’s engine. You add fuel to your engine and it gets you where you need to go. Over time, however, the normal wear and tear of driving can cause gunk and grime to build up. And without proper care, your engine will start to underperform and eventually break down.
In a similar fashion, your body naturally produces “gunk” in the form of free radicals. These damaging groups of atoms are formed when the food we eat is converted into energy, when we exercise, and when we are exposed to environmental pollutants. This is where antioxidants step in! They work hard to help detox your body and promote good health.
Here are 5 benefits of consuming foods rich in antioxidants:
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that cause damage on the cellular level. Among other things, this includes potential damage to our DNA, which if unchecked may eventually lead to cancer. The good news is that antioxidants can help by neutralizing these chemical reactions, aiding in cancer prevention.
In addition to regular exercise, foods rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fruits and veggies also provide a number of very important nutrients most people fall short on, including folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, as well as vitamins A, C, and K (SOURCE).
Eating a diet high in vitamins C and E can boost cognitive function and reduce your risk of dementia. In fact, one study showed that people who consumed high levels of vitamin C reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s by 34%. Diets rich in vitamin E appeared to be even more protective, slashing the threat of dementia by nearly half (SOURCE).
Environmental factors like exposure to ultra-violet (UV) light can be damaging to the eyes over time. However, studies have shown that combinations of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc can significantly reduce the risk of age-related eye conditions, such as macular degeneration (SOURCE).
Free radicals can damage the skin, speed up the aging process, and make you appear older. Luckily antioxidants can help by increasing collagen production, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, and by reducing age spots and acne.