What are Antioxidants?

orange fruit on clear glass bowl antioxidants

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that prevent or slow cell damage caused by oxidation from free radicals and reactive oxygen species. This oxidative stress arises during metabolism and especially through intense exercise.

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Examples of Antioxidants

  • Vitamin C – Water-soluble vitamin that neutralizes free radicals. Found in fruits and vegetables. Boosts immunity.
  • Vitamin E – Fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. Found in nuts, seeds, and oils. Protects cell membranes.
  • Beta carotene – Antioxidant form of vitamin A found in plant foods. Converts to active vitamin A in the body.
  • Polyphenols – Plant compounds that act as antioxidants. Found in tea, coffee, wine, fruits, vegetables and more.
  • Flavonoids – Polyphenols found in many plant foods and drinks. Potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
  • Anthocyanins- Flavonoids that give blue/purple plants their color. Found in berries and red wine. Powerful antioxidants.

These are found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, teas, and nuts.

Antioxidant Effects

  • Neutralize free radicals
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support the immune system
  • Lower risk of chronic diseases
  • Protect cells from damage
  • Delay muscle fatigue during exercise

Good Dietary Sources

Berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, dark chocolate, whole grains, and green tea.

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Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?

Whole foods provide a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients. Some research casts doubt on benefits of isolated antioxidant supplements for athletic performance.

In summary, antioxidants help defend the body against oxidative stress, especially during intense exercise. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, but supplements may not provide added benefits.

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