Antioxidants is a word that’s bandied about all the time – we all know they’re supposed to be good for us, we know they’re found in meat, fish, fruit and vegetables – yes, frozen vegetables count too; but do you know exactly what they are and the role they play in creating a healthier you?
To begin at the beginning: oxidants are free radicals that occur not only in the environment (pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke all spawn free radicals), but also naturally in your body. While free radicals are helpful in fighting off bacteria, they can also attack stable molecules setting off a chain reaction, ultimately affecting living healthy cells. If left unchecked, free radical production can become excessive, causing damage – antioxidants help keep that process in check, protecting your body from harm.
There are so many antioxidants to consider – all of which play an important role in the growth and development of several systems in the body – and can be found in such a wide variety of foods, that the selection process can at times seem daunting; but keep the following antioxidant categories in mind to ensure you include important food sources:
Vitamin E: instrumental in strengthening our immune system and building healthy skin and eyes; it can be found in nuts, whole grains and vegetables – the range of wholesale frozen vegetables on offer from N1 are an excellent source of vitamin E.
Vitamin C: helping the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels and skin; it can be found in citrus fruit, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and strawberries.
Copper, Zinc and Zoochemicals: essential in making red blood cells, helping the immune system fight off invading bacteria, and reducing inflammation respectively; a primary source of these antioxidants can be found in meat – Halaal certified meat and non-Halaal, Halaal fish, as well as in milk and nuts.
Manganese and Selenium: active in forming connective tissue, metabolic regulation, and optimising thyroid function; excellent sources include seafood – the N1 range of Halaal fish includes fish cakes, hake, haddock, line fish and Kingklip – as well as lean meat, offal and whole grains.
If you’re in doubt about how best to navigate the world of antioxidants and free radicals, perhaps the soundest advice is to ‘eat the rainbow’ – by including a well-balanced diet of meat, fish, nuts, dairy and a wide variety of different types and colours of fruit and vegetables, you are sure to be consuming the majority of antioxidants needed to fight against cell damage and ill health. Enjoy eating the rainbow and here’s to a healthier you!