Antioxidants are substances that could defend our body from free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules with irregular number of electrons, which makes them very reactive and unstable. When a free radical comes in contact with a stable molecule, it gains or losses electrons to reach a more stable form.
In the process, the electron equilibrium of the stable molecule is disturbed and the stable molecule becomes a free radical itself. This begins a chain reaction of destruction. Free radical molecules damage DNA, protein, and fats, causing many degenerative ailments such as aging, cardiovascular diseases, immune dysfunction and cancer.
Free radicals are produced by various means, including internal and external aspects. External factors include radiation, UV, environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke, bad diet frying foods whereas normal body functions like immune cell activity and respiration are the internal elements.
There are several Types of free radical molecules, the superoxide radicals, hydroxyl radicals, proxy radicals and alkoxyl radicals. Recently, all these molecules together with hydrogen peroxide and oxygen are jointly called reactive oxygen species ROS. Out of them, the hydroxyl radicals are the most damaging to our body.
Antioxidants are free radical scavengers. They work by devoting their electrons to free radical molecules, restoring equilibrium to them. Antioxidants may also donate electrons into DNA or fatty acids which have lost an electron, thus neutralizing the effect of free radical damage. There are lots of types of antioxidants, some are produced naturally in our body, and many others can be obtained from diet. These include antioxidant enzymes, minerals and vitamins, and some biochemical compounds.
Superoxide dismutases SOD, Catalyse and glutathione peroxidise are antioxidant enzymes contained within our body. They operate together with other antioxidants, glutathione, proteins and uric acid to give a self defence.
Vitamins A, C and E are well known antioxidants in but they could convert to feeble free radicals once they donate their electrons to other molecules. By comparison, antioxidant enzymes may convert free radicals into other less dangerous forms and inert and valuable compounds without getting free radicals themselves. Minerals like selenium and zinc are not antioxidants themselves, but significant integral components of antioxidant enzymes, so they also play an essential role in free radical defence.
Other biochemical compounds in Lone Star Centers including flavonoids and non flavonoid phenol compounds are also powerful antioxidants. Some common ones include pro antho cyanidins, epicatehin, resveratrol, curcumin, sallying, etc These compounds are abundant in kitchen spices, fruits, vegetables and herbs like ginger, garlic, curry, parsley, rosemary, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, black currant, grape, pomegranate, tomato, broccoli, kale, cabbage, green tea, gingko, milk thistle, hawthorn berry.