Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, thereby leading to chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms. Antioxidants such as thiols or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these chain reactions.
Function of Antioxidants
They reverse the effects of free radicals. These volatile compounds in the body have links to aging and other health issues, including cancer.
Antioxidants help fight chronic inflammation, which occurs when the immune system reacts to particular health issues, such as arthritis, stomach or skin problems.
Antioxidants are used as food additives to help guard against food deterioration. Oxidation of food occurs when exposed to oxygen and sunlight, so food is preserved by keeping in the dark and sealing it in containers or even coating it in wax.
Antioxidants are also an important class of preservatives, natural or synthetic food preservatives, are additives that preserve food from “farm to plate” and militate against oxidative deterioration on storage and processing. Due to their high stability and low volatility, the antioxidants help to maintain the level of nutrients, texture, color, taste, freshness, functionality, aroma, and appeal to consumers.
Antioxidant preservatives are also added to fat-based cosmetics such as lipstick and moisturizers to prevent rancidity.
Antioxidants found in your morning coffee or tea, known as polyphenol antioxidants, may help prevent heart disease. They work to prevent the oxidation of fat and thereby limit the internal inflammation that may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Antioxidants are essential for animal and plant life since they are involved in complex metabolic and signaling mechanisms. They protect plants by producing phytoalexins, e.g., isoflavonoid structures, in response to microbiological and fungal pathogen invasion.
Antioxidants might even help with mental health concerns, such as depression. More and more studies show that there is a link between free radicals and mood disorders like anxiety and depression as well as complex neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Berries have antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, may help defray the effects of aging and prevent or even reverse memory loss. They do so by helping to improve brain cells’ ability to maintain long-term communication and establish strong connections.
Antioxidants are exogenous or endogenous molecules that mitigate any form of oxidative/nitrosative stress or its consequences. They may act from directly scavenging free radicals to increasing antioxidative defenses.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants include:
Naturally occurring antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols, and lignans. Plant-based foods are the best sources. These include fruits (Pecans, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pear, Banana, Dark Chocolate, Artichokes, Raspberries, Kale, beans, beets, e.t.c), vegetables (spinach) and their juices, whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and even cocoa.