As you know, I love making smoothies and fresh fruit juices every morning! One of my favourite ingredients to put in my smoothies are mixed berries because they’re high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body and decrease the risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease & cancer.
But before we get into the amazing benefits of antioxidants, we must first discuss free radicals and oxidative stress.
Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are unstable molecules that are highly reactive. They are constantly being formed in our bodies and are necessary for certain functions such as helping our cells fight off infections. However, there must be a balance between free radicals and antioxidants, otherwise oxidative stress will occur.
Over a long period of time, oxidative stress can accelerate aging, damage DNA and even lead to cell death.
Certain lifestyle factors and dietary habits can promote free radical formation and therefore cause oxidative stress:
- Smoking Cigarettes
- Alcohol Consumption
- Air Pollution
- Intense Exercise
- Too much sun exposure
- Dietary Habits- Red & Processed Meats
- Antioxidant Deficiency
All About Antioxidants!
Alright so now that we have talked a lil bit about free radicals and oxidative stress, let’s talk about antioxidants! So as I mentioned earlier, antioxidants are molecules that fight off free radicals in our bodies preventing oxidative stress. Our bodies can generate antioxidants such as glutathione, but we should really be getting our source from fresh fruits and vegetables. Plant based foods are a great way to get your fix because they contain varying kinds of antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E.
There are two types of antioxidants: water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water soluble antioxidants work in the fluid inside and outside of cells, whereas fat-soluble antioxidants work largely in the cell membrane. The three most important dietary antioxidants include Vitamins C, E and flavonoids.
- Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress induced damage. It’s also an essential nutrient that boosts our immunity and promotes the look of healthy skin.
- Vitamin E is fat-soluble and also protects against oxidative stress. Vitamin E is great for the skin because it protects our cell membranes and helps neutralize free radicals.
- Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are found in plant based foods. They’re beneficial in reducing oxidative stress, boosting immunity and promoting overall health.
Plant foods that are high in antioxidants include berries (blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, raspberries), artichokes, kale, spinach and beans.
It’s so important to make sure that you are getting a decent amount of antioxidants daily! Antioxidants are crucial to our health and are an amazing skin food.
My favourite way to add antioxidants to my diet is making smoothies every morning! Even if berries aren’t in season, frozen berries are a great choice and they’re about the same cost wise.
Next time you go to the grocery store, grab a bag of frozen raspberries, mixed berries and blueberries. Throw some in a blender with some fresh bananas and soy milk and you now have the perfect skin food! 🙂
Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Understanding antioxidants. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants