You have likely heard of antioxidants, as there has been a huge amount of research about these powerful substances. Most people, however, don’t really understand what antioxidants are and just how far-reaching antioxidants health benefits can be. Today we will take a closer look at these amazing and health-boosting substances.
What Are Antioxidants And Free Radicals
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, an antioxidant is “a substance that inhibits oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides or free radicals”. That definition may be accurate but is a little too scientific for the average person to truly understand so let’s simplify it a bit, shall we?
When the prefix ‘anti-’ is used it means to act against or counteract whatever comes after, in this case, ‘oxidant’. An oxidant is something that has combined with oxygen. Since humans need oxygen, putting those terms together is quite confusing until you know more about oxidization.
When considering the substances that go into your body, both food and particles in the air, they interact with oxygen which is the process of oxidation. This process causes something called ‘free radicals’. The human body is designed to deal with both the normal process of oxidation and free radicals, as this is all a part of metabolism.
The problem starts when more free radicals are introduced than the body can deal with adequately – and similarly to how excess inflammation becomes a chronic condition, an excess of free radical also is chronic and can have many health implications, including an increased risk for getting certain types of cancer.
Free radicals are then defined as incomplete molecules or atoms that are leftover during the process of oxidation. They don’t want to be incomplete so they attach themselves to nearby cells. This makes the once healthy cell deteriorate, releasing even more free radicals that go on to another healthy cell and so on, in a chain reaction.
If the only free radicals were from digesting our food, the body would have no problem keeping things in balance as it was designed to do. Unfortunately, today we have poor diets and pollution that contribute to higher levels of free radicals than the body can handle naturally. In order to counter this, we need to up our antioxidant intake dramatically.
Where Do We Get Antioxidants?
One way to increase our antioxidant intake is to eat foods rich in these protective substances. Remember the old adage, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Turns out that when it comes to foods that we would actually eat and enjoy, apples are rich in antioxidants, especially if one eats the skin. Of the twenty highest antioxidant foods, three of them are varieties of apples: Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala.
Beans are another good source for antioxidant power. The small red bean is the richest source, but red kidney beans and pinto beans are not far behind. The only other food close to these bean sources is the wild blueberry. Cultivated blueberries are also high in antioxidants, but the wild variety is almost half again higher in antioxidant content.
When I referred to the apple and antioxidants in the content of foods we eat and enjoy, this was because the strongest antioxidant natural nutritional health benefits come from herbs. We may use these in the cooking of foods as spices, but I wouldn’t eat a spoonful of oregano or take a big bite of ginger like it was an apple.
Drinking really isn’t the same as eating, meaning that green tea is a great antioxidant that was used in China 5,000 years ago – and has been said to have a multitude of antioxidant benefits, from raising metabolism and weight control to providing natural antibiotic properties.
And what has been called the strongest and most powerful antioxidant of them all is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, or naturally occurring pigments that give foods their color, like giving carrots, salmon, and shrimp their distinctive shade of orange and pink.
Probably the best source of astaxanthin is algae, which is something else that I am not planning to eat like an apple.
When comparing the relative antioxidant strength apples have the most as a food, and oregano is supposed to have around 40 times stronger antioxidant properties than the apple – but this is nothing when compared to the antioxidants and ability to eliminate cellular oxidation and free radicals as astaxanthin.
Antioxidant Herbal Supplements
So, there are some natural foods and drinks that are strong antioxidants, but not at all as powerful as herbs and foods that you most likely are not going to eat, at least not in an appreciable quantity – making an antioxidant herbal supplement the most effective way to receive these important health benefits.
And considering that the herbal supplements are made with an extract of the herb, there is a far greater amount than contained in the food or herb itself. For instance, I have mentioned oregano a couple of time – the company that makes an anti-inflammatory herbal supplement I take also makes an oregano supplement, and they show that there is a ratio of the extract to oregano of 54:1.
Do keep this in mind when starting to take an antioxidant herbal supplement, or any herbal supplement for that matter, and start off slowly with a smaller dosage than recognized. Be sure that you can tolerate it and there is no reaction before taking the full dosage AND this is not one of these if 1 is good than 2 are better things
This is a synergistic combination of the extracts of 10 different herbs known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. When taking this supplement I split the dosage in half and take it twice during the day, and always with food and a bottle of water.
If you have inflammation problems associated to joint problems or arthritis, Zyflamend Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Supplement is really effective. It is designed to promote natural whole-body inflammation reduction.
And according to the latest SPINS market research data from 2011, Zyflamend is the #1 herbal supplement in the US.
For an astaxanthin supplement, take a look at Astaxanthin Gold Antioxidant Supplement. This is a highly rated astaxanthin antioxidant supplement that is made from highly pure Hawaiian microalgae, and not from some synthetic source – and a good way to take advantage of what many health professionals are calling the strongest antioxidant of them all.