Sources of free radicals from outside the body that can be found on a daily basis, such as cigarette smoke, vehicle smoke, and food contaminated with pesticides. The free radicals are at risk of damaging the cells in the body and triggering serious illness. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants can choose the type of damage.
Sliced bananas will change color quickly. Chicken that is not stored in the refrigerator will eventually become stale. This is called the oxidation process. The cells in the human body also undergo such a natural process.
When the body uses oxygen, about 1-2 percent of the cells become damaged and turn into free radicals. Free radicals are the term for damaged cells that can cause certain negative conditions. To prevent damage, the body needs enough antioxidants.
Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals
Antioxidants are substances that help protect your body’s cells from the ill effects of free radicals. Free radicals can form naturally inside the body and can be obtained from outside the body.
Free radicals that form in the body are chemicals produced from the digestive process. While free radicals from outside the body are caused by cigarette smoke and radiation. Free radicals that the body cannot handle can trigger various chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Nowadays, especially in big cities when pollution levels are higher, you need more antioxidants, especially if you live in an environment with higher pollution levels. The body’s oxidative load in such environments is much higher than in places with low pollution levels.
The body is unable to produce antioxidants naturally as needed. Therefore, you need to consume enough foods with high antioxidant content every day, to fight free radicals.
Types and Sources of Antioxidants
There are many types of antioxidants. Each type of antioxidant works in a different way, to protect the body’s cells from damage. Vitamin C is known to prevent damage by capturing and neutralizing free radicals, while vitamin E can break the chain of free radicals. Flavonoids and polyphenols are antioxidants found in many types of food and are the largest part of antioxidants.
Some vegetables and fruits contain higher antioxidants than others. Examples of antioxidants used by the body are vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. All three are rich in red, orange, yellow, and purple fruits and vegetables.
Here are some foods that are a major source of antioxidants that are recommended to be consumed regularly.
Fruits: apple, pear, grape, orange, grapefruit, banana, bidara, mango, pineapple, papaya, breadfruit, strawberry.
Vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, red cabbage, petai, and red tubers.
Nuts: pecans, walnuts, almonds.
In addition to the above ingredients, dark chocolate, tea (such as green tea and oolong tea), herbal plants such as secang wood, and coffee without additives, are also good sources of antioxidants. As much as possible consume a variety of food groups to get the best benefits of all kinds.
A study found that older women who are not accustomed to consuming fresh vegetables and fruits daily will have a 25 percent higher risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years than those who do not. Avoid cooking vegetables that are too ripe so that the vitamin content does not disappear. The best way to consume vegetables is to consume them raw or steamed half-cooked.
Natural Vegetables and Fruits Are More Recommended
Research has found that antioxidant supplements do not necessarily bring as many benefits as antioxidants found in fresh foods. There are even studies that find that in some cases these supplements can be risky.
In addition to the risk of complications if consumed in combination with other drugs, high-dose antioxidant supplements can lead to health problems. In smokers, high-dose beta-carotene supplements are at risk for lung cancer. While vitamin E supplements in high doses can increase the risk of stroke and prostate cancer.
Instead of supplements, it is better to choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are the best source of natural antioxidants. Prioritize fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins E, C, carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. In addition to being rich in antioxidants, these fresh fruits and vegetables are generally rich in fiber and low in saturated fat.