What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are dietary constituents, including certain nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. This antioxidant prevents damages to our body cells or repairs the damage that has been done. They are the part of the body’s defence system which plays a vital role in protecting against free radical damage. Ascorbic acid, carotenoids, Glutathione, Melatonin, and tocopherols are few examples of Antioxidants.
Types of Antioxidants
Antioxidants have been broadly categorized into two:
Primary or natural antioxidants are co-factors of antioxidant enzymes. They also include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, and manganese. These antioxidants are involved in all metabolic functions of the body. Phytochemicals are active chemical components present in plants that account for their medicinal properties. They also include flavonoids.
Secondary or synthetic antioxidants considerably increase the shelf life and render animal fats in baked food products, i.e. practically all foods with a high oil content such as margarine and mayonnaise. The four widely used synthetic antioxidants in the food industry are:
- Propyl gallate (PG)
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ)
Importance of Antioxidants
Antioxidants act as a body’s defence system. They are involved in promoting cardiovascular health and other functions of heart by decreasing LDL – low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and supporting efficient metabolism to preserve cardiovascular function.
Antioxidants are also involved in :
- Preventing neurodegenerative disorders
- It helps in strengthening the immune system
- Reduces age-related macular degeneration in older people
- Promoting the growth of healthy cells by protecting against premature and abnormal ageing
- Promoting good vision and prevents macular degeneration, cataract and other degenerative eye diseases.
Therapeutic Role of Antioxidants
Cataracts: Vitamin C, Vitamin E and carotenoids are associated with delayed development of a specific form of cataract. Improvement of eyesight or vision is also associated with a higher level of these antioxidants.
Diabetes: Vitamin C acts as an effective aldose reductase inhibitor and may be helpful for therapeutic intervention in diabetic patients.
Thrombosis: vitamin E is an essential nutrient for reducing the oxidation of lipids. Vitamin E reduces platelet adhesiveness.
Asthma: An increased intake of antioxidants in the diet helps in reducing oxidative stress and helps prevent and minimise the development of asthmatic symptoms.
Preventing skin ageing: Aging, damage and mutation might be due to the response of oxygen species generated during aerobic metabolism.
Parkinson’s disease: It is a degenerative, progressive disorder that affects the brain’s nerve cells that control body movement. As per the studies, people with a high blood level of the natural antioxidant Vitamins (ascorbic acid) are sometimes found to decrease or lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Antioxidants play a fundamental role in preventing cancer, cell death, tissue damage and other diseases by slowing the ageing process and preventing heart disease by supporting efficient metabolism, helping the body to lose fat more efficiently. As per the experimental and epidemiologic evidence, these antioxidant vitamins play an essential role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease by maintaining cholesterol levels, blood pressure and overall support a healthy heart with accurate cardiac cycle and cardiac output readings.
Antioxidants are also involved in destroying the free radicals as they damage the body’s cellular level, which results in cell death and tissue damage. Therefore antioxidants are required for our body, as our body cannot synthesise these dietary constituents independently. Consequently, they should be supplied through diet.
According to the researches, it is more effective to get antioxidants through diet than by taking supplements. So, stay fit and enjoy eating a variety of these fruits and veggies daily.
A high dose of antioxidant supplements may be linked to health risks, such as cancer and in very rare cases, these supplements may also interact with some medicines and cause severe side effects. Therefore, go with the nutritionist’s advice or health care providers to minimize the risk of your health with any antioxidants you use. These were some fantastic health benefits of Antioxidants.
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