Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are naturally occurring by-products of cellular metabolism and can also be produced by environmental factors such as pollution, ultraviolet radiation, and stress. Over time, accumulation of free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause damage to cell structures such as DNA, proteins, and lipids. This damage can contribute to the development of various health conditions, including chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.
The role of antioxidants in health is to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. Antioxidants work by donating electrons to free radicals, which stops them from further damaging cells. Some of the most common antioxidants found in food include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium. Antioxidants can also be found in many plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
In addition to their role in protecting cells from oxidative damage, antioxidants have been shown to have a number of other health benefits. For example, some antioxidants, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, have been shown to enhance the immune system, while others, such as vitamin E, have been shown to reduce inflammation.
It is important to note that while antioxidants are important for overall health, it is best to obtain them from food sources rather than from dietary supplements. This is because the synergistic effect of the many different antioxidants and other nutrients found in whole foods is likely to be more beneficial for health than taking large doses of individual antioxidants. Additionally, some studies have suggested that high doses of certain antioxidants.