What ARE Antioxidants?

These days, it’s all about getting that antioxidant fix. Blueberries are filled with them, different types of beans are packed with them, and now lots of beauty products have them, too. For years I’ve known that antioxidants are good for me, but the other day it suddenly dawned on me: I have no idea what an antioxidant is.
What does it do? Why do I need it? In order to get these question answered, I did a little research – and today I want to share my findings.

What are antioxidants?

An antioxidant, by definition, is a substance that inhibits oxidation. But, why is oxidation bad? Well, think about it this way. What happens to an apple when it’s cut open and left out? Why is food best preserved in air-tight containers? Oxidation is what causes these things to go bad – and the same thing happens to the cells in your body.

Face close-up

As oxygen interacts with the cells in your body (as with cells of any type), the process of oxidation causes those cells to change in some way. While most of those cells are metabolized properly by your body, a tiny percentage of them turns into “free radicals”, which are damaged cells that may speed the aging process and can even cause disease.

How do antioxidants work?

Antioxidants block oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. In the process, the antioxidants themselves become oxidized, so that’s why we should make sure to consistently replenish our bodies with antioxidant-rich food!

How can I get my fill of antioxidants?

It’s unclear whether an excess of antioxidants may actually be harmful to the body, so it’s best to avoid overloading on antioxidant supplements. Instead, just be sure to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into your diet in the form of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Blueberries spilling

Specifically, try incorporating blueberries, cranberries, red beans, pinto beans, and artichokes into your meals, as these are among the most antioxidant-rich foods. For a more detailed list of antioxidant-rich foods, go here!

I hope I was able to shed a bit of light on the basics of antioxidants. If you have any knowledge you’d like to share on the topic, please feel free to comment below! :)

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10 years ago

…I just realized I never knew what they were either. Always loaded up on antioxidant rich foods, but never knew why. Thanks for the enlightenment!


10 years ago

This is great, I always go for a green tea everyday because it has antioxidants but never really knew what it was helping :] Great post!


10 years ago

I guess I never knew what antioxidants were either…. good post, thank you.

10 years ago

Since we’re on subject, lets all learn about telomeres. Those are even more interesting in the aging process.

10 years ago

My brother is a nutritionist / cardiologist/ personal trainer, so he explained it to me, but I never understood because he did it in complete medical speak, so thanks for clarifying! Lovely post!

xo, Juliette Laura

Acai bowls are my favorite form of antioxidants! :) Great post


10 years ago

I love this article! These damaging free radicals are missing an electron, and antioxidants donate an electron to these cells to stop the production of these free radicals! Antioxidants are very much needed in the diet, but you also have to be careful, because ingesting too much antioxidant (like people who take too high of doses of vitamin E) is linked to heart disease. So make sure you get your antioxidants! But be careful to not overindulge :-)

10 years ago

Actually, free radicals are more accurately defined as this: “Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants.”
Free radicals themselves are not cells but can eventually form irregular cells.
Also @paperstarz , the idea of telomeres being responsible for aging has shown little positive experimental backing. It does sound like a good idea, but sadly it doesn’t answer a lot of questions.
Yay science!

. N.p.. Web. 11 Nov 2013. .

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing this helpful information about antioxidants. I only take organic and natural foods because they are good and safe. I am also using natural products for my beauty and skin care. Being natural really make sense.