You hear so much talk about antioxidants in the health, wellness and nutrition worlds. It seems these days that the word gets thrown around a lot without much clarity on what it really refers to. Generally speaking, most of us know that antioxidants are good for us (that’s certainly been drilled in), but do you actually know what antioxidants are, what they do, and where you can find them?
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It’s one of those health terms that is surrounded by a lot of confusion, mystery, and even a lot of assumptions. Thankfully, today I’m hoping to clear some of that confusion up, and make you antioxidant-aware with this in-depth look at what antioxidants are, what they do, and most importantly, where you can find them…
1. How Do Antioxidants Work?
Let’s start by covering the basics and learning how these powerful substances work. If you break down the word antioxidants you get anti (against) oxidants (oxidation), meaning that antioxidants are substances that prevent cell damage caused by oxidation in the body. When certain types of oxygen molecules are allowed to float freely in the body and can cause oxidative damage, which creates what is known as free radicals.
These free radicals can be damaging to the body and have been linked to cancer and pre-mature aging. Free radicals form when an atom or molecule splits and is left with an odd, unpaired electron. Antioxidants neutralize this cellular damage by donating one of their own electrons to end the electron ‘stealing reaction caused by free radicals.