What exactly are antioxidants? And why is it so vital to our core health?
At the molecular and cellular levels, antioxidants serve to deactivate certain particles called free radicals. In humans, free radicals usually come in the form of O2, which is the oxygen molecule. The oxygen molecule wants to be oxidized, and this oxidation process can sometimes be carcinogenic. Free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within and among cells. They are also created by exposure to various environmental factors, tobacco smoke and radiation, for instance.
Antioxidants have become synonymous with good health. They are a class of compounds thought to prevent certain types of chemical damage caused by an excess of free radicals, charged molecules that are generated by a variety of sources including pesticides, smoking and exhaust fumes. Destroying free radicals may help fight cancer, heart disease and stroke, researchers believe.
Why Fruits and Vegetables are Important!
Fruits and vegetables have long been viewed as a rich source of antioxidant compounds. Health officials have been urging consumers for years to eat more fruits and vegetables in order to gain the health benefits of antioxidants, but progress has been slow, according to researchers. Westerners still tend to favor diets that are rich in fats and carbohydrates, they say. More recently, researchers have begun to formally study the health benefits of herbs and spices. The two differ mainly by source. Herbs typically come from the leaves of plants. Spices come from the bark, stem and seeds of plants. Both have been used for thousands of years to flavor foods and treat illness.
Does Herbs have Antioxidants?
Yes! Recently, herbs have emerged as a quick and easy way to get a concentrated source of antioxidants, without all the extra calories of whole foods. Researches recently compared the antioxidant activity of herbs to a few select spices, including paprika, garlic, curry, chili, and black pepper. Herbs came out on top!
Herbs can be consumed in a variety of ways. Some people prefer to drink herb extracts, which can be made by adding herbs to hot water to make potent antioxidant teas. Others use concentrated herbal oils available in some health food stories. Most of us prefer a little dash and sprinkle of the familiar leafy or powdered versions to add flavor to our favorite meats and vegetables. This is a great reason to head to your nearest herb store for a boost of antioxidants!
In general, fresh herbs and spices are healthier and contain higher antioxidant levels compared to their processed counterparts. For example, the antioxidant activity of fresh garlic is 1.5 times higher than dry garlic powder!
Natural or Supplemented Antioxidants?
And of course, it is always best to take the all natural antioxidants from your food! But many times, too many of us do not really stick to a all well balanced diet, and this is why it is essential that we take antioxidant supplements to ensure we have all the proper balance of nutrients!