Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or interfere with the formation of free radicals, during the initiation and propagation stages. Antioxidants can be classified according to their origin, such as artificial or synthetic and natural. They can be effective separately, but the combination of two or more produces a reinforced action. This synergistic effect between antioxidants is widely exploited by the food industry.
Types Of Antioxidants
To maintain the life we need a minimum level of energy and nutrients to cover our normal functions. In addition, to maintain health we require a plus to face possible aggressions from the environment. This plus means what we provide to our body through healthy habits of life, in what refers fundamentally to food, physical exercise and the level of stress . If what we want is to achieve a minimum impact of the passage of time on our body, we must take care of ourselves at all levels, and in food this happens by having a varied, balanced diet, sufficient but without excesses and with an adequate supply of minerals , vitaminsand bioactive substances with beneficial properties.
The antioxidants have the function of stopping the oxidation reactions and this occurs both in food and in living organisms. To stop these reactions at the food industry level, synthetic antioxidants and a combination of antioxidants are used, but we will focus on antioxidants that we can take naturally with our diet and that can contribute to a better state of health and a possible anti-aging effect. We will highlight some antioxidants:
They are pigments of yellow, orange, and reddish colors that we find in the plant world, although we also find them in green leafy vegetables. The most studied carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene is a precursor substance of vitamin A that our body can transform if it needs it. Lutein and zeaxanthin appear to have beneficial properties at the ocular level, while lycopene is considered efficient against free radicals that cause damage, especially to the eyes and skin.
In any case, the antioxidant potential and its positive effects compared to the possible negative effects of supplementation with these compounds is still under study and in some cases generates contradictory results. Therefore, we must bear in mind that the intake of these elements through food does not pose a risk and is potentially beneficial, but we should not go to supplementation without the advice and supervision of a professional. We find carotenoids in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and chard, and orange-colored fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, squash, mango, medlars, etc.
Tocopherols And Tocotrienols
It is a series of substances with vitamin E activity. Vitamin E acts fundamentally as an antioxidant since it slows down the proliferation of free radicals, regenerates itself thanks to vitamin C, protects fatty acids from oxidation, and maintains the permeability of the cell membranes. It acts at the skin level and for this reason, it is attributed a possible anti-aging effect. They are found in foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as olive and sunflower oil, nuts, wheat germ, avocado, egg yolk …
Ascorbic acid or vitamin C
It has an important role in cell metabolism and is also attributed a role in the protection of mucous membranes and in the formation of collagen, a molecule related to the elasticity of the skin. Vitamin C acts in synergy with vitamin E, enhancing its antioxidant activity. They are found in parsley, forest fruits, citrus fruits, chives, kiwi, strawberries, peppers … and, in general, fruits and vegetables, but it is easily oxidized, so to obtain the benefits of vitamin C we must take these raw foods, and keep them in a cool place protected from light.
These compounds are natural to the plant kingdom and are known above all for their antioxidant properties. It is an extensive group of compounds, anthocyanins, tannins, lignins, flavonoids … Anthocyanins are pigments responsible for the reddish and purplish color of many fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, cherries, red cabbage, grapes, etc. Tannins confer an astringent sensation to the foods that contain them, nature uses them mainly as protection since many animals reject this flavor. They are found in a greater proportion of fruits that are still green and they decrease with maturation. They are in apples, blackberries, grapes, tea leaves …
Lignins are structural compounds found in plant cell walls. Flavonoids serve many functions in plant organisms and have aroused scientific interest due to their biological activity in humans as antimicrobials, antioxidants, etc. They are found in citrus fruits, bananas, soybeans, peas, licorice, red fruits, grapes, tea, olive oil, cocoa, nuts, soybeans, and fruits and vegetables in general.
A Menu Rich In Antioxidants
This menu is an example of how to combine the aforementioned foods and the main antioxidants provided by the food or preparation are reported in parentheses. This proposal especially seeks the presence of foods with antioxidants, which does not mean that it is the appropriate diet to follow in any case as it must be adjusted personally.
- Breakfast: a piece of fruit (vitamin C) / green tea (polyphenols) / whole-wheat toast with natural tomato and olive oil (carotenoids and vitamin E)
- Mid-morning: a piece of fruit (polyphenols)
- Lunch: mixed green salad with olive oil (carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E …) / sautéed cold turkey with soy and green beans with olive oil (polyphenols and vitamin E) / a piece of fruit (polyphenols)
- Mid-afternoon: individual terrine of fresh cheese with a handful of walnuts (vitamin E and polyphenols)
- Dinner: Calabaza cream with olive oil (carotenoids and vitamin E) / grilled white fish with chives, parsley, and olive oil (vitamin C and vitamin E) / skimmed yogurt with natural raspberries (vitamin C and polyphenols)
Despite taking into account all these antioxidant foods and trying to include them in the diet, MAPFRE Salud Insurance offers you a specific service based on nutrition and the prevention of obesity, among others. Do not hesitate to consult the wide range of coverage for each policy and choose the one that best suits you and your family.
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