Before getting into antioxidants and what they do we need to, first, take a quick look at their counterparts: free radicals and oxidants. Free radicals and oxidants are highly reactive chemicals that are formed in the body naturally and, in small amounts, they can be beneficial to the body by helping to destroy some bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, they are also formed by exposure to cigarette smoke, x-rays and air pollutants. With these being ever present in our modern daily lives we start to develop more oxidants and free radicals than we need. When this happens they can lead to a whole host of health problem from cancers to Parkinson’s disease and from heart issues to dementia.
Antioxidants, as you may have guessed from the name, can work to counteract the effects of oxidants and free radicals. They are made naturally in small amounts by the body too but can also be introduced to our systems in the form of antioxidant rich foods, such as goji berries, blueberries, pecans, artichokes and, you’ll be delighted to hear, dark chocolate!
While you’ll hear many outlandish and exaggerated claims in the media about antioxidants proven to prevent and cure cancer, there is still a lot of deeper research to be done. In saying this, they have proven benefits in helping to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals so, next time you’re reaching for a snack, grab a handful of blueberries instead of that chocolate bar