February 4, 2013

All I wanted to know about Antioxidants!

I been upto a lot of things lately and definitely this is not the post I want to resume my writing with.
I was reading about Green Teas (as I have started drinking it instead of regular tea) and that directed me to read about antioxidants. This topic, like many others, had always been dwelling in my mind but its just today that it surfaced and I thought this is good to write about.

I want to write down about it in the language that I can clearly remember and explain others.

What is oxidation:

What I knew - Rusting of iron or a peeled apple turning red is related to oxidation. So definitely oxidation is a chemical reaction, that is related to oxygen (as the name suggests) and could be slower or a faster process. Definitely it is not good as nobody likes a rusted iron or a peeled apple that had turned red. :)

What I learnt - Oxidation never occurs on a painted iron object or not on the Apple that has skin, which means, it occurs when some kind of cells\molecules come in contact with oxygen. As we know any burning process requires Oxygen and so does the food (glucose) in our body requires oxygen to ignite itself and generate energy that body requires for functioning. We also burn the energy resulting into heat that can damage cells. This process is nothing but oxidation.
The damaging of the cells actually occurs because of the electrons that are generated during these reactions of molecules and oxygen. These free electrons are also called as free radicals.

Prolonged damaging of cells can cause serious injuries.
Effects of Oxidation:

What I knew - Nothing

What surprised me - As the oxidation\burning can occur anywhere in the body, the effects could also been at any place or of any kind. Here is the list which is literally shocking and if we correctly know how tackle the oxidation we can at least eliminate a good chance of these disease ever happening and lead a healthy life. (source- http://www3.amherst.edu/~dmirwin/Reports/BetterHealth.htm)
  • Deterioration of the eyes, which contributes to blindness.
  • Inflammation of the joints (rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain.                   
  • Acceleration of the ageing process.
  • Increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to adhere to artery walls.
  • Certain cancers, triggered by damaged cell DNA.

What are antioxidants ("free radical scavengers"):

What I knew - I should eat antioxidants like berries to have healthy life.
What I learnt - These are the chemicals that are responsible for removing the free radicals that cause disease. Many vitamins act as antioxidants. Antioxidant supplements do not work as well as the natural sources of them found in vegetables, fruits, etc.
Antioxidants block the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals and themselves become oxidized. That is why there is a constant need to replenish our antioxidant resources.
Sources of antioxidants:
Allium sulphur compounds
Leeks, onions and garlic.
Eggplant, grapes and berries.
Red wine and Tea.
Red capsicum, pumpkin and mangoes.
Tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas and milk.
Sesame seeds, bran, whole grains and vegetables.
Leafy greens like spinach, and corn.
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.
Thyme and oregano. Grapes, all berries
Beta carotene
Pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley.
Vitamin C
Oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and strawberries.
Vitamin E
Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Copper *
Seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts.
Selenium *
Seafood, offal, lean meat and whole grains.
Manganese *
Seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts.
Zinc *
Seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts.

* Need only in small amounts.
  • Know it right and do it right !