What are Antioxidants?

As I said in my Menu Monday this week, I’m starting a new fitness regimen.  I’m doing this because my husband, Gregg, is doing the same thing and will be blogging about it.  I can’t let him come home in 5 months in shape, buffed up, and greet him as out of shape as I have become.  So, I’m looking forward to the next five months and the physical challenges I’ll face.

In beginning this regimen, I’ve done quite a bit of research into supplements, vitamins, etc.  And a word that I’ve come across several times is the word “antioxidants.”  Things that contain antioxidants are apparently good for you.  But, why?  You may already know this.  But since I didn’t and had to learn about it, I thought I’d share with you my newfound knowledge.  :-)

Breaking the word down, we get “anti”, which means against, and oxidants.  An oxidant is very specifically defined as a chemical agent that oxidizes.  Yeah?  So?

Millions of processes are occurring in our bodies all the times.  Many of these processes require oxygen (inhale oxygen, exhale carbon dioxide). However, this same life-giving oxygen creates a free-radical byproduct called oxidants – substances which cause cell damage and lead to chronic disease.

Consider it like the pollution that is released when a factory produces a product – no matter how beneficial that product is to our livelihoods, the pollution is still damaging to our environment.

Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer, etc., are all contributed by the damage done by oxidants.

Smoking, alcoholic beverages, pollution, excessive sun exposure – these things also introduce oxidants to our bodies.  Even if we limit those things in our lives, simply by existing and living and cells within our bodies doing their jobs, oxidants will be present.

A rainbow of good health

Antioxidants are substances or nutrients that are found in some food and drinks which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. Antioxidants prevent and repair damage done by oxidants.  Antioxidants may also up our immune system, lowering the risk of cancer and infection.

Antioxidants are present in high levels in green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, cabbage, peppers, avocado.  They’re in blueberries, beans, spinach, strawberries.  They are also found in grape juice, green and black tea.  Within your spice cabinet, you can find them in cinnamon, cloves, and oregano.  Vitamin E and A supplements can also provide additional valuable sources of antioxidants.

Every breath you take gives you life.  The more you introduce beautiful, God-provided natural food into your diet, the healthier that breath will be for you.

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