Antioxidants are substances that neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electron, formed naturally within the body or through environmental stress, such as pollution, smoking, drinking alcohol or radiation. Because free radicals are missing an electron, they will seek out the extra electron from healthy cells within the body, inducing damage and causing them, in turn, to seek out an extra electron. Free radicals thus cause a chain reaction that can lead to serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating an extra electron to them and thus prevent the chain reaction of cellular damage. In this process, antioxidants do not turn into free radicals.
Antioxidants in Foods
Among the antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium, which are found in fruits, vegetables and nuts. Because they are antioxidant-rich, the American Cancer Society recommends you take five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It is important that antioxidants be taken primarily from food rather than supplements, and that a variety of foods with antioxidants be consumed in order to provide the maximum benefit. By taking sufficient quantities of antioxidants, you will strengthen your immune system, prevent the onset of diseases and age better.