ANTIOXIDANTS - Health, Benefits and Best Sources

ANTIOXIDANTS - Health, Benefits and Best Sources

The World's Most Powerful Antioxidant Found in Nature

"Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open." - B.K.S. Iyengar

Living a healthy lifestyle is a goal for many of us. We exercise, eat right, and take vitamins to help our bodies function at their best. Antioxidants are an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. They play a crucial role in protecting our cells against the damage caused by free radicals. And of all the antioxidants, astaxanthin is considered the king.

In this article, we'll explore what makes astaxanthin so special and why it should be a part of your daily routine. But before we delve into the benefits of astaxanthin, let's take a step back and discuss what free radicals are.


What are free radicals?

In today's fast-paced world, stress, pollution, and unhealthy lifestyle choices can all contribute to the creation of harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells by stealing electrons from other molecules in the body. This process is called oxidation and can lead to a chain reaction of damage to our cells.

These unstable molecules can cause oxidative stress, leading to cellular damage and contribute to many health problems, including chronic inflammation, heart disease, and cancer.



What are antioxidants and why do we need them?

Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize free radicals and prevent them from causing damage to our cells. Our bodies naturally produce some antioxidants, but we also need to get them from our diet.

Antioxidants are essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic disease.


Signs of antioxidant Deficiency

If you're not getting enough antioxidants in your diet, you may experience a range of health problems, including:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Increased risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Premature aging
  • Poor immune function
  • Cognitive decline


World's best known antioxidants, Types of Antioxidants and the Top Food Sources

Excessive free radicals are known to contribute to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, and vision loss. Research shows that consuming whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are rich in natural networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules, can protect against the many effects of aging. Numerous epidemiological prospective studies suggest that individuals who consume antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes have a lower risk of developing chronic oxidative stress-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and death from all causes. A plant-based diet is believed to offer protection against such diseases, although it remains unclear whether this protective effect is due to the antioxidants in the foods, other substances in the foods, or a combination of both.

There are several nutrients found in certain foods that have antioxidant activity, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene, selenium, zinc, and phenolic compounds. Foods that are rich in these nutrients include:

   Vitamin C: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beet, collards), honeydew, kale, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomatoes, and bell peppers (all colors);

   Vitamin E: almonds, avocado, Swiss chard, leafy greens (beet, mustard, turnip), peanuts, red peppers, spinach (boiled), and sunflower seeds;

   Carotenoids: Alpha-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, apricots, broccoli, and spinach), Beta-carotene (arrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, apricots, broccoli, and spinach), Zeaxanthin (leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens), broccoli, peas, summer squash, and corn), Lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, apricots) Lutein (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, green peas, romaine lettuce) Beta-Cryptoxanthin (oranges, tangerines, butternut squash, papaya, red peppers), Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin (salmon, trout, krill oil, shrimp, lobster, microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis), and some fungi);

   Selenium: Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, beef, poultry, barley, brown rice;

   Zinc: beef, poultry, oysters, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, cashews, fortified cereals;

   Phenolic compounds: quercetin (apples, red wine, onions), catechins (tea, cocoa, berries), resveratrol (red and white wine, grapes, peanuts, berries), coumaric acid (spices, berries), and anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries). chlorogenic acid (coffee, apples, pears, blueberries, artichokes, potatoes), kaempferol: (tea (green, black, oolong), apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, grapes, kale);

   CoQ10 is a coenzyme found in every cell in the human body: fatty fish, organ meats (such as liver), whole grains, peanuts, soybean oil, canola oil;

   Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound found in cruciferous vegetables like: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, cabbage.

krill shrimps salmon good source of antioxidants

What is ORAC?

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements. Developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, the ORAC assay measures how well a substance can quench free radicals in a test tube.

History and FDA Use: The ORAC method was first introduced in 1991 as a way to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. Since then, it has become a popular tool for researchers studying the health benefits of antioxidants. However, in 2012 the FDA announced that ORAC values could no longer be used in product labeling or advertising, as they were not a reliable indicator of health benefits.

ORAC Results: Despite the FDA's decision, ORAC values remain a useful tool for comparing the antioxidant power of different foods and supplements. Some of the highest ORAC values have been found in fruits and vegetables such as acai berries, blueberries, and spinach. Vitamins C and E, as well as teas, herbs, and spices, also rank high on the ORAC scale.

The Most Potent Antioxidants in the World Revealed

    Some of the best sources of ORAC-rich foods include berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and spices. For those looking to supplement their diet with antioxidants, options include vitamin C and E supplements, green tea extract, and astaxanthin from krill oil.

    According to ORAC values, Astaxanthin is one of the most potent antioxidants in the world, with an ORAC value of 1,500 times higher than that of vitamin C and astonishing 6,000 times higher than that of vitamin E.

    Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that belongs to the carotenoid family of pigments. It can be found in various natural sources, including:

    1. Microalgae: The primary natural source of astaxanthin is microalgae, which produce this compound as a defense mechanism against harsh environmental conditions.

    2. Krill: Krill is a small crustacean that feeds on microalgae, and as a result, it is one of the best sources of astaxanthin.

    3. Salmon and other fish: Astaxanthin is what gives salmon and other fish their pinkish-red color. These animals obtain astaxanthin by consuming microalgae or other marine organisms that contain the pigment.

    1. Shrimp: Shrimp is another marine animal that contains astaxanthin, although the levels are typically lower than in salmon or krill.

    2. Supplements: Astaxanthin supplements are available in the form of capsules, tablets, and soft gels. These supplements are typically derived from microalgae, but they can also be sourced from other natural sources, such as salmon or krill. Vitakrill softgels are made of extra strength 100% Antarctic krill oil from sustainable krill fishery. 

    In conclusion, antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds that can be obtained through a variety of foods. They play a crucial role in protecting the body from free radicals that can cause oxidative stress and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and also may cause poorer immune function, cognitive decline and premature aging.

    Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants can help neutralize these harmful molecules and decrease the risk of these conditions. By incorporating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods into your diet, you can increase your blood levels of antioxidants and experience their many health benefits.




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