Antioxidants are important to humans because they protect our cells and tissues from the free radicals. The free radical theory of disease suggests that excessive accumulation of free radicals such as peroxide, the superoxide anion and the hydroxyl radical are able to cause oxidative stress, and that this leads to the degeneration of cells, ultimately causing chronic disease. To counteract this problem, the body has an array of antioxidants that it can use to quench the free radical chain reactions before they cause tissue damage. While some of these antioxidants are produced in the cells, many are plant chemicals that are derived from our diet. Here are three easy to implement steps that will significantly boost antioxidant levels and help prevent disease.
1. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a rich source of a group of plant chemicals called the flavan-3-ols. Flavan-3-ols are sometimes referred to as catechins, and belong to the flavonoid group of polyphenols. Green tea is the best source of flavan-3-ols, although they can be found in smaller concentrations in black tea, particularly darjeeling, and apples. Green tea has been shown to possess anti-cancer and cardioprotective effects and it is thought that the flavan-3-ols it contains may be the reason for this effect. Three to five cups a day significantly increases antioxidant defences.
2. Add Spices To Your Food
Of all the plant foods spices contain the highest antioxidant capacity. This is partly because the spices are dried and therefore have a low water content, but also because the plants that spices are made from are excellent sources of antioxidants. Of the spices cloves are particularly high in antioxidants, but most spices have strong antioxidant potential. Spices such as rosemary, basil, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, thyme and marjoram are easy to add to foods and will increase the antioxidant capacity of those foods significantly.
3. Take A Vitamin C Supplement
The maximum amount of vitamin C that even a high quality diet can provide is around 600 mg per day. However, a single vitamin C capsule can provide 1000 mg. As the plasma is not saturated with vitamin C until an intake of around 2500 mg is achieved, supplements are the only way to obtain optimal plasma levels. Vitamin C supplements have been shown to increase cellular levels of glutathione, the primary endogenous antioxidants in cells. As glutathione levels rise the risk of disease falls significantly.