Free radicals are damaged cells within your body that multiply themselves faster than normal, healthy cells. These free radicals are linked to many chronic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Parkinson's, as well as Alzheimer's. External sources of free radicals, such as cigarette smoke, are free radical generators. Free radicals can also be harbored in food and water.
Antioxidants may help protect you at a cellular level from free radicals. Antioxidants are certain vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. We are fairly aware of the importance and benefit of vitamins and minerals... Research shows that nearly half of the population of the United States are taking some sort of dietary supplement. Flavonoids are the largest group of antioxidants, they come from plants. Found widely in fruits, vegetables, red wines, and teas. They are readily available with healthy choices in our everyday diet.
Antioxidants found abundantly in darkly coloured veggies include vitamins C and E, minerals such as selenium, and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. It should be noted that any supplement that contains beta carotene or vitamin A may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and should be avoided. The amount of beta carotene found in antioxidant-rich foods is considered safe, and as most nutritionists will tell you, it is best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally, as opposed to relying on a pill-form supplement. As I was told by my family doctor, "a steak and a multivitamin is not the same as a steak and a salad."
Research varies as to whether the body benefits from the actual antioxidants, but the body does benefit from a good healthy diet with all the known antioxidant rich foods. The closer to whole the better. Eat an orange instead of having orange juice. Drink matcha instead of steeped green tea. Go for the banana instead of the banana milkshake. Okay, okay... That one was obvious. Just do your best to incorporate antioxidant rich foods into your diet. A spinach salad with raw fruits and other colourful vegetables is a great option.