what is an antioxidant and what do they do?

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow cell damage in our bodies by fighting free radicals. They basically scavenge our bodies looking for free radicals to fight!  

So… what are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are harmful, unstable molecules produced by our bodies as it reacts to unhealthy aspects of our environment and processes food that’s not great for us. If we don’t get rid of them efficiently, they cause “oxidative stress” which wreaks havoc on our health.  

  • We produce free radicals when we’re exposed to things that harm us like cigarette smoke, pollution and UV rays from the sun and in response to internal factors like high blood sugar levels, inflammation and a high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids like canola or corn oils. 
  • The effects of the oxidative stress caused by free radicals include aging, disease, stroke, arthritis, respiratory illness and many other inflammatory conditions. 

So, how do you get more antioxidants?  What can you to do make sure you’ve got a full army of these guys to help you fight?

The best source of antioxidants are vegetables and other plant-based foods, though they’re found in a variety of animal-based foods as well (pro tip: fruits and vegetables with rich, vibrant colors tend to contain the most antioxidants!) 

Here’s a list of key antioxidants and where you can find them: 

  • Vitamin A: Dairy produce, eggs and fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel (link to blog)
  • Vitamin C: Most fruits and vegetables, especially berries, oranges, and bell peppers. (link to blog)
  • Vitamin E: broccoli, avocado, spinach, chard, mustard and turnip greens, almonds, peanuts, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers and sunflower seeds
  • Beta-carotene: Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, peas, spinach, and mangoes 
  • Lycopene: Pink and red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelon
  • Lutein: Green, leafy vegetables, corn, papaya and oranges
  • Selenium: Rice, corn, wheat, and other whole grains, as well as brazil nuts, eggs, cheese, legumes, tuna, beef and poultry.
  • Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, some fortified cereals (check the ingredients to see if zinc has been added), and dairy products (link to blog)
  • Polyphenols: plant-based foods like green and black teas, red wine, berries (link to blog)
  • mymuse: our drinks are an excellent source of vitamin c and zinc, plus the polyphenols in our teas!

Other foods that are believed to be good sources of antioxidants include:

  • eggplants
  • red grapes
  • dark chocolate
  • pomegranates
  • goji berries
  • apples
  • red grapes and raisins
  • plums
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • onions
  • beans

Sources

Healthline

Medical News Today

WebMD