7 Foods That Can Help Reduce Free Radicals in the Body
We hear about them in the news, yet, not many of us know what exactly free radicals are. After discussing how they damage the body, we’re going to show you seven foods that reduce free radical damage in the body. These foods contain various “antioxidants” that force free radicals to become more stable, ultimately leading to decreased damage to tissues and cells.
What Are Free Radicals in the Body?
Free radicals are reactive molecules formed within the energy-producing power plants of the cell – the mitochondria. At first, the damage is hardly noticeable. But as we get older, free radicals can cause significant distress on the body’s homeostatic state. Basically, it causes things to go “out of whack”, and it works like a snowball effect in the sense that the damage becomes worse and worse.
Free radicals can be so dangerous that an official theory of aging, known as the Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging, has been formed around them. Environmental factors like cigarette smoke, herbicides, radiation, and pollution can all contribute to an increased production of free radicals (they form 24/7 anyway even in the absence of these stimuli). At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, I understand what free radicals are. Now, how can I prevent them from causing damage in my body?” Great question! The answer lies in your diet.
Antioxidants Can Dramatically Decrease Free Radical Damage
Vitamins C and E are proven to protect the body against dangerous free radicals. Also known as antioxidants, they essentially “neutralize” the free radicals so that they don’t cause further damage. Vitamin E is a plentiful fat-soluble antioxidant within the body, and is one of the prime defenders against oxidation (the driving force behind free radical damage). Vitamin C is also quite abundant in the body, and it acts at reducing free radical damage within cellular fluid. But enough of all this “scientific” talk. Let’s look at seven foods that contain loads of Vitamin C and E, and that can stop free radicals right in their tracks.
Not only is it considered a superfood, but broccoli is also a great source of powerful antioxidants. Broccoli is relatively inexpensive, can be used in a variety of meal types, and tastes excellent. It also contains plenty of fiber, which contributes to frequent bowel movements and keeps your digestive tract clean. The most notable antioxidant in broccoli is known as “Sulforaphane”.
Apricots are a delicious fruit that tend to be overlooked in the produce section. But considering that they’re loaded with Vitamin A and C, as well as the all-powerful antioxidant “Lycopene”, you should definitely consider putting them in your cart more often. If you keep up with the news, you might know that lycopene is the same antioxidant found in tomatoes (although the amounts are significantly lower). Either way, adding this to your daily fruit lineup is a great way to reduce free radical damage.
As one of the best berries for reducing free radical damage, raspberries contain loads of antioxidants. On top of that, they contain high concentrations of phenols, a compound believed to hold anti-cancer capabilities. Raspberries are a prime ingredient in anti-inflammatory diets, and can even reduce joint paint associated with arthritis. But there’s no doubt that their ability to eliminate free radical damage is their best quality. The most notable antioxidant in raspberries is “Ellagitannin”.
Cherries are ranked the second strongest fruit for fighting free radical damage since they contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants per ounce out there (blueberries are number one). The most notable antioxidant is “Anthyocyanin”, a compound that stops free radicals in their tracks. Experts recommend purchasing organic cherries and eating them raw. Drinking raw/organic cherry juice will provide you with the same antioxidant benefits. Remember that cooking or baking cherries will deplete their potency.
Not only do they taste great, but they hold a lot of antioxidant power. Their primary antioxidant is the same one found in tomatoes and apricots – lycopene. Aside from the antioxidants, you’ll also receive a variety of vitamins and minerals with each serving. Health experts don’t know for certain whether seeded or seedless watermelons contain more antioxidants. However, they do believe that watermelons with deeper tones of red mean a higher concentration of lycopene.
This is another excellent source of free radical-fighting compounds. It ranks high up there with blueberries and raspberries. Artichokes make for an excellent salad topper, or you can grill them for optimal flavor. The main and strongest antioxidant found in artichokes is “Silymarin”.
Last but certainly not least is spinach. This is one powerhouse of a food. It contains high amounts of protein and fiber (which contribute to better digestion), but it is better-known for its antioxidant, “Beta-Carotene”. The great thing about spinach is that it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and in many types of dishes. You can enjoy it as a smoothie or have it on a sandwich. Either way, it’s a must-have for anyone wanting to decrease free radical damage in their cells.