What are Antioxidants?


Before I started my nutrition course I knew antioxidants were good for me, but I wasn’t exactly sure why or what they were.

Basically, when something is classified as an “antioxidant” it prevents molecules from becoming oxidized or becoming free radicals. Free radicals are oxidized or unstable molecules with unpaired electrons. When they are in this “free” state; the molecules become highly chemically reactive, and in some cases can be beneficial to us, but in other cases can cause damage to our cells. One of the main diseases that results from abnormal cell growth is cancer, which is why it’s suggested that antioxidants can help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Free radicals come from pollution, processed food diets, hydrogenated & rancid oils and chemical exposure, which can affect us internally or externally depending on the type of exposure.

Vitamin E often comes up with this subject because it’s a potent antioxidant that protects our cell membranes and tissues from free radical damage, which will prevent skin damage and decrease our likelihood of illness. (Vitamin C is also an antioxidant).

When it comes to vitamin E it’s important that you get it from food sources rather than supplements (Health Canada ). Some good food sources of vitamin E are:

-Many varieties of vegetable oils such as: sunflower, safflower, flaxseed & grapeseed (make sure to use these in their raw form in dressings or bread dippers)
-Raw broccoli and spinach – I always make my salads with organic baby spinach. Most of the brands available are pre-washed (I buy the big container of PC Organic) which makes it easy to incorporate into your diet. In addition to salads, you can try tossing a handful into your breakfast smoothie. It’s a great way to get antioxidants, B vitamins & iron, and the only thing that changes is the colour; you won’t even taste it!
-Cucumber, tomato and celery
-Seeds & nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts
-Almond milk
-Almond & peanut butters
-Wheat germ

You can also use grapeseed oil with an essential oil and make your own vitamin-E-rich, all-natural body moisturizer!

It can be overwhelming when you think of all the different vitamins you should or shouldn’t be taking, but it’s reassuring to know that you can get most of them by eating a diet rich in unprocessed, whole foods, and raw fruits & vegetables. It’s just a matter of getting educated and learning which ones provide you with what vitamins!

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5 Responses to What are Antioxidants?

  1. Carole Coyle April 19, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    Hi Lauren

    Very impressive website, I plan to make your Banana Muffins!!!!
    keep up the great work! you should send me some articles for the magazines….

    Hugs Carole aka MOG (mother of the groom)


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