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The process of oxidation in our bodies damages cell membranes, and various cellular structures such as proteins, lipids and DNA. This happens when oxygen is metabolised, creating unstable molecules called ‘free radicals’. They steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to cells and other cellular structures.
The said damage, caused by free radicals, may reach a point when it begins to harm your heart and liver, and in certain cases, lead to cancer as well. Hence, it is advised to be cautious of catalysts that accelerate oxidation — these include stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, overexposure to sunlight as well as pollution.
Antioxidants can help us ward off ailments caused by free radicals, as they work to protect the cells from damage caused by the oxidation process.
Antioxidants are present in many food items, and in a publication by Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, epidemiological prospective studies show that higher intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes are associated with a lower risk of chronic oxidative stress-related diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Hence, we present to you 5 antioxidant-rich foods to stock up on to enhance your immunity, and provide you with the much-needed nutrients:
Blueberries are low in calories, and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They have up to 9.2 millimoles per litre (mmol) of antioxidants per 100 grams. Antioxidants in blueberries, called anthocyanins, reduce risk factors for heart disease, lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as per a research published by National Library of Medicine.
Beans are high in fibre, and a rich source of antioxidants (2 mmol per 100 grams). Kaempfero is the antioxidant found in beans that has proven health benefits such as reduced chronic inflammation and suppressed cancer growth, as per research published by Science Direct.
Beetroot is a wondrous ingredient, with a rich nutritional profile. This vegetable contains a wide range of essential vitamins, fibre, antioxidants (1.7 mmol per 100 grams), and minerals and helps to boost cell health, metabolism, bone growth and the immune system. Betalains, the antioxidant found in beetroots, lowers the risk of cancers in the colon and digestive tract, and suppresses inflammation.
This vegetable is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (0.9 mmol per 100 grams), and is incredibly low in calories. Spinach is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin — these antioxidants help to protect your eyes from harmful UV light.
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, and helps to lower inflammation in the body, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure. This nutritious and delicious treat is also helpful, when it comes to reducing the risk factors for heart disease.
So ladies, don’t forget to purchase these foods the next time you’re at the supermarket!