Antioxidants help protect the body against free radical damage. Free radicals can be visualized by cutting an apple in half and putting it on the table. After a couple of minutes, the apple begins to change color (brown), this is due to free radical damage. Now, to protect that apple, it is best to put a little lemon juice on it after it opens. The antioxidants in lemon juice will protect the apple from being attacked.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are chemicals that slow the rate of oxidation in cells and biomolecules. Oxidation is where chemical reactions transfer electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent, resulting in a change from the original chemistry to something different. Free radicals are the main culprits for damaging cells. Antioxidant-rich foods and supplements help prevent free radical damage.
Benefits of antioxidants in health and bodybuilding
Antioxidants help boost the immune system, which prevents cell damage and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Antioxidants can delay, prevent, and even reverse certain diseases that arise due to cells that have been damaged. In addition, these could also be a natural way to slow down the aging process.
When we exercise, oxygen consumption increases (at least it should be if you work hard enough). This increase in oxygen causes an increase in free radicals, which damage cells and cause muscle fatigue. The body uses antioxidants found in the body to help reduce free radical damage. The good side to this story is that evidence shows that exercise strengthens the body’s antioxidant defense system. It is because of this finding that diseases that are associated with oxidative stress are at a lower rate of incidence with those individuals who exercise.
Some types of antioxidants
Vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and coenzyme Q10 are all antioxidants that protect lipid membranes, while vitamin C, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, catalase protect the body from free radicals that build up found in the water-based cytoplasm.
A large number of antioxidants are found in dietary supplements used to help prevent cancer and heart disease, not to mention helping with general health every day. A good diet can produce thousands of different antioxidants whereas dietary supplements only have specific antioxidants in their products.
Sources of ant ioxidants
Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts are great sources of antioxidants. Fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, have an abundant amount of antioxidants in them. Spinach and bell peppers are great plant sources of antioxidants. Some good sources of grains that have a good amount of antioxidants are barley, corn, and millet. One place that not many people would think would have a good source of antioxidants would be in cocoa products like dark chocolate and milk. For those who want to drink their antioxidants, coffee, red wine and tea such as black, green and white are ideal for fighting free radicals.