In grocery store aisles across the country, various food labels boast their products as being great sources of antioxidants. And in health articles, writers (including this Examiner!) point out that red wine is not only tasty but a great source of antioxidants, making that glass you’re enjoying relatively guilt-free. It’s clear that antioxidants are desirable to have in your regular diet and undoubtedly beneficial to general health but what are they exactly? And more importantly, why should you be seeking them out?
An antioxidant is a little molecule and nothing more. However, it can be seen as the little molecule that could. Antioxidants are referred to as such because they stop oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that results in the production of free radicals. These free radicals can cause some serious cell damage. This cell damage has been linked to both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as heart disease and various neurological disorders. Additionally, this cell damage can be seen externally as well, resulting in less elasticity in the skin, making one appear older. Basically, oxidation results in the breakdown of cells and antioxidants significantly slow down this process.
Fortunately, antioxidants are very accessible and easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are great sources of antioxidants as are most citrus fruits. Some beans, such as red beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans pack quite the antioxidant punch as do some nuts, like pecans and walnuts. Additionally, you can sip your antioxidants in coffee, green tea, and aforementioned red wine. And, of course, eating a piece of dark chocolate is a great, delicious way to keep those free radicals at bay.
So go ahead, start your day with coffee, snack on fruits and nuts, have a glass of red with dinner, and piece of dark chocolate for your dessert. Your taste buds and cells will thank you.