Updated: Mar 16, 2018
They're everywhere. From your smoothie bar menu to your supplement label, antioxidants are all the rave; but why? What the heck is an antioxidant anyway and why the heck do we need to eat them?
An antioxidant is a molecule that prevents the oxidation of other molecules, which in turn stops free radicals from forming in your body and damaging your cells. On a surface level, you might think this is unrelatable, but free radicals naturally form in your body on a daily basis. It happens when you exercise*, when you breathe bad air, when you consume too much sunlight, etc. When out of control, these free radicals can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, major depressive disorder, Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's and more. No bueno.
This is where antioxidants come in to play. Countless research studies have shown that consuming antioxidant molecules from whole foods counteract the cell damage from free radicals.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
Black plums & prunes
Red or black grapes
However it's important to know that only food sources of antioxidants have been proven to provide health benefits, while the studies show that antioxidant consumption from supplements don't necessarily work. The theory here is that the form and delivery of the antioxidant is important, and perhaps the fiber or additional phytochemicals naturally paired with antioxidants in their whole food form helps the body absorb the nutrient. So... EAT your ANTIOXIDANTS! :)
*While exercise does produce oxidative stress, this does not mean you should stay away from exercise. There are numerous benefits of exercise, including X, X and X. Studies have proven that free radical damage on DNA cells can be prevented within minutes by simply consuming antioxidant rich foods before & after exercise.