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by Katie Hoehn December 16, 2022 4 min read

The foods we eat provide our body with the nutrients it needs to function and perform at its best. I think that's a no-brainer for all of us.

One of the most important types of these nutrients is antioxidants ... and for good reason! Antioxidants have been promoted in the health industry for years, but what are they and what do they do for us?

A lot. Here's everything you need to know about antioxidants, what they do for your body, and why they're so important.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds with the primary function of helping to protect your body from oxidative stress. We'll talk about this more in-depth later. For now, it's important that you understand the function of antioxidants.

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Your body actually produces some very powerful antioxidants on its own. This includes antioxidants like alpha lipoic acid and glutathione.

However, the majority of antioxidants we get on a daily basis come from our diets.

Some of the primary antioxidant-rich nutrients we get from our food include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein
  • Selenium
  • Manganese
  • Zeaxanthin

Now, keep in mind that not all antioxidants do the same thing. That’s why it is best to eat a wide variety of foods to cover all your bases.

What Do Antioxidants Do?

Like I mentioned earlier, antioxidants are primarily used to protect your body from oxidative stress. For those of you who don't know ... oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

When there are more free radicals than antioxidants, the free radicals begin to damage proteins, DNA, and other body tissue. This, of course, can lead to serious health complications down the line as well as increased signs of aging.

There are a ton of different diseases linked to oxidative stress, including [1]:

  • Neurological diseases (ex. Parkinsons, Alzheimer's, ALS, and Depression)
  • Cardiovascular diseases (ex. Hypertension, Cardiomyopathy, and Atherosclerosis)
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory diseases (ex. Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Kidney Diseases

I know ... pretty horrible stuff. The good news is, antioxidants can help tremendously with limiting oxidative stress. Here's the science...

How Do Antioxidants Protect Against Cellular Damage?

Free radicals are naturally produced by your body and come from the environment. They come from the air we breathe, the water we drink, pesticides and cleaners, cigarette smoke, and so much more.

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But, why is this? Well, it actually comes down to the fact that antioxidant molecules are capable of donating electrons to free radicals.

You see, free radicals are actually unstable molecules by design. It's the extra electron donated from antioxidants which helps to stabilize the reactivity of free radicals.

That's why it's important to make sure you get an adequate amount of antioxidants every day ... they're the primary line of defense against oxidative stress. For anyone serious about their long-term health, this is a priority!

What Foods Are Antioxidants Found In?

So what's the best way you can get in more antioxidants? Easy ... eat them! I'm not saying you can literally buy them from the grocery store ... but they come in a ton of foods you'll find at every grocery store!

You know the saying “eat the rainbow”? Look for bright, vibrantly colored foods as they typically contain the most antioxidants compared to other foods. They also often fall in the “superfoods” category.

Some examples of foods that you can eat more to get specific types of antioxidants we’ve discussed:

Vitamin A: Get your vitamin A from foods like eggs, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beef liver, and tomatoes.

What Are Red Superfoods?

Vitamin C: Eat plenty of citrus, bell peppers, strawberries and other berries, and cruciferous vegetables.

Vitamin E: Plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of vitamin E. This includes beet greens, collard greens, spinach, peanut butter, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and more.

Beta-carotene: Go for yellow, orange, and green leafy fruits and vegetables, like carrots, spinach, lettuce, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and winter squash.

Lycopene: A lot of pink and red fruits have lycopene in it, such as tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruit.

Lutein: Try eating more kale, spinach, corn, bell peppers, parsley, eggs, and pistachios.

Selenium: You’ll find selenium in a lot of protein sources, such as pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and some beans and nuts.

Manganese: Get more manganese by eating pineapple, pinto beans, and pecans.

Zeaxanthin: Up your antioxidant intake with zeaxanthin-rich foods like spinach, goji berry, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, kiwi fruit, corn, and garden peas.

Need More Antioxidants in Your Life?

Here’s the truth: despite how important antioxidants are, it can be challenging for most people to get enough through their diet. Our food is also less nutritious than ever before.

You should strive to get as many nutrients from your food by eating a well-balanced diet, but particularly when you’re trying to get your body to function better … sometimes you need a little extra help.

If you want to be sure that you’re getting enough antioxidants to support your lifestyle, check out Opti-Reds 50. It's a superfood antioxidant reds powder that is designed to give your body the antioxidants it needs to support cardiovascular and overall health, immunity, and energy!

Opti-Reds 50

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches who are here to help you out for FREE. Give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or shoot us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com anytime, and we'll make sure you're on track to accomplish all your health and fitness goals.

References:

[1] Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, Squadrito F, Altavilla D, Bitto A. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:8416763. doi: 10.1155/2017/8416763. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28819546; PMCID: PMC5551541.

Katie Hoehn
Katie Hoehn

Katie Hoehn Registered Dietitian ACE Certified Personal Trainer ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist ACE Youth Fitness Specialist 1st Phorm App Advisor