Antioxidants are dietary constituents including certain nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. This antioxidant prevents the damages to our body cells or repair the damage that has been done. They are the part of the body’s defense system which plays a vital role in protecting against free radical damage. Ascorbic acid, carotenoids, Glutathione, Melatonin, and tocopherols are few examples of Antioxidants.
Antioxidants are broadly categorized into two:
Primary or natural antioxidants are co-factors of antioxidants enzymes. They also include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, and manganese. Antioxidant vitamins are involved in all metabolic functions of the body. The phytochemicals are active chemical components present in plants that account for its medicinal properties. They also include flavonoids.
Secondary or synthetic antioxidants are mainly used to increase the shelf life considerably and in rendering of animal fats in baked food products i.e. practically all foods with a high oil content such as margarine and mayonnaise. The four widely used synthetic antioxidants in the food industry are:
- Propyl gallate (PG).
- Butylated hydroxyl anisole (BHA).
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
- Tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ).
Biological role of antioxidants
Antioxidants acts as a body’s defense system and functions by:
- Promoting cardiovascular health.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Preventing neurodegenerative disorders.
- Promoting the growth of healthy cells by protecting against the premature and abnormal aging.
- Decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) by increasing HDL (good cholesterol), and lower blood pressure.
- Promoting good vision and prevents macular degeneration, cataract, and other degenerative eye diseases.
Sources of antioxidants
Good sources of antioxidants include all foods rich in Vitamin C, E, and Beta Carotene. Antioxidants are also be abundantly found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, millets, whole grains wheat, brown rice, and in all green, red and yellow colored vegetables and fruits.
Therapeutic role of antioxidants
Cataracts: Vitamin C, Vitamin E and the carotenoids are associated with delayed development of the certain form of cataract. Improvement of eye sight or vision is also associated with higher level of these antioxidants.
Diabetes: Vitamin C act as an effective aldose reductase inhibitor and may be helpful for therapeutic intervention in diabetic patients.
Thrombosis: vitamin E is an important nutrient for reducing the oxidation of lipid. Vitamin E reduces platelet adhesiveness.
Asthma: An increased intake of antioxidant in the diet helps in reducing the oxidative stress, and helps in preventing and minimizing the development of asthmatic symptoms.
Preventing skin aging: Aging, damage and mutation might be due to the response of oxygen species which is generated during the aerobic metabolism.
Parkinson’s disease: It is a degenerative, progressive disorder which affects the nerve cells in the brain that controls the body movement. As per the studies, people with a high blood level of the natural antioxidant Vitamins (ascorbic acid) is sometimes found decreased or lowers the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Antioxidant plays a fundamental role in preventing cancer, cell death, tissue damage and other diseases by slowing the aging process and preventing heart disease by supporting efficient metabolism helping the body to lose fat more easily. They are also involved in destroying the free radicals as they damage the cellular levels of the body which can result in cell death and tissue damage. Therefore antioxidants are very much required for our body, as our body cannot synthesis these dietary constituents by their own, so they should be supplied through diet. According to the research, it is more effective to get antioxidants through diet, than by taking its supplements. So, stay fit and enjoy eating a variety of these fruits and veggies daily.
These were some amazing health benefits of Antioxidants. Subscribe to BYJU’S YouTube Channel to watch interactive and engaging video lessons on the interesting biology topics.