-Written by Bhaavyaa

Without antioxidants, many of us would be prey to numerous infections and possibly even cancer within a few months. Although our bodies produce their own antioxidants, there is also a need for us to boost our defences by consuming foods that contain them. The importance of these dietary antioxidants is a matter of great debate. Most often claims for dietary antioxidants - particularly for supplements have been exaggerated, but the recent research says that these food supplements with antioxidants protect an individual from certain cancers, heart diseases and premature aging.

Where can you find these enigmatic superheroes? Seafood, vitamin E, apricots, tomatoes, almonds, hazelnut, sunflower seeds, red peppers, mangoes, avocado, cod, berrings, mussels, cod fillets, broccoli, carrots, papaya, spinach, sunflower oil, peanut oil, to name a few, are rich in antioxidants.

Another added advantage of antioxidants is that they protect the body against free radicals. Free radicals the chemicals formed in the body as part of its metabolism and defence against bacteria. Sometimes due to excessive exposure to pollution, UV rays and cigarette smoke the body increases its production of free radicals. If left unchecked, these unstable and potentially harmful chemicals create conditions that may result in heart diseases and cancer.

This is the reason why doctors advise patients to consume foods with more antioxidants in it to cure their illness or when they are exposed to pollutants.

Now let's get a little technical here. Vitamin C and E and beta carotene, help to neutralise free radicals, as do minerals such as selenium (found in shellfish and avocados), copper (in nuts, seeds and shellfish) and zinc (in shellfish). Bioflavonoids, found in some fruit and vegetables, including citrus fruits and grapes, also have antioxidant properties. 

Sometimes even artificial antioxidants are added to margarine and oils to stop them becoming rancid, and to retain the natural colourings of processed foods. 

These enigmatic superheroes have always been around us, but we have failed to notice them. Antioxidants are an integral part of a balanced diet. If you are planning to go on a strict diet regime, don't forget to include lots of antioxidants in your meals to keep you healthy.

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