Free radicals are reactive molecules created by the body due to external stresses such as environmental pollutants and internal body processes such as metabolism. Every day, millions of free radicals are produced in our bodies as a result of cell damage.

There are some compounds in our body known as antioxidants that prevent the damage caused by free radicals to body cells, Antioxidants — also referred to as free radical scavengers — can be artificial or natural. Foods obtained from plants are often a great source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants can be endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous antioxidants are the ones that are produced by the body on its own. Exogenous antioxidants on the other hand are the ones that are obtained from other sources outside the body.

Oxidative stress occurs if the body is unable to eliminate free radicals. This will harm the cells and functions of the body.

Types of Antioxidants

Many compounds act as antioxidants. Antioxidants work in collaboration with one another to efficiently assist several processes in the body and to act as some of the best anti-aging supplements.

Antioxidants can be classified into two types: water-soluble or fat-soluble. The antioxidants that function in fluids are water-soluble, while the antioxidants that act mainly in cell membranes are fat-soluble.

Significant dietary antioxidants include:

Vitamin C. This important nutrient in the diet is a water-soluble antioxidant.

Vitamin E. This antioxidant plays a vital function in the defense of cell membranes against oxidative harm and is fat-soluble.

Flavonoids. This category of  antioxidants consists of several compounds naturally present in many vegetables and fruits, and are known to have a number of positive health benefits.

Many substances that happen to be antioxidants often have other essential functions. Each antioxidant has a particular role and is not interchangeable with another, which is why it's important to include a large variety of antioxidant foods in your diet.

How Free Radicals Function

In your body, free radicals are continuously being created. Without the presence of antioxidants, free radicals would quickly cause significant damage to cells (and thus tissues and organs), ultimately leading to death. However, studies show that free radicals also perform valuable roles that are vital to well-being.

Your immune cells, for example, use free radicals to battle pathogens. This means that your body has to keep a certain equilibrium between antioxidants and free radicals. Extended oxidative stress will destroy your DNA and other essential molecules in your body. It also contributes to cell death occasionally.

Antioxidant Benefits

Oxidative stress can result in several conditions including cancer, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, and other conditions. Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants in our body, which is believed to improve optimal well-being.

Preventing Cancer

Free radicals are involved in destroying the body's cellular DNA, which plays a large role in the growth of cancer.

Our body makes free radicals when we breathe or exercise, and we are exposed to even more via environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, or sunlight. They move all around the body and cause chronic inflammation. Free radicals are detected by antioxidants which then neutralize their adverse effects.

Healthy Skin

Swollen skin hinders the mechanism of skin rejuvenation. By limiting inflammation, antioxidants make it possible for the skin to heal itself and correct visible damage. Some antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may also promote the development of collagen, which is essential for healthy skin. Free radicals and frequent exposure to the sun can also induce differences in the development of melanin in our skin, resulting in dark spots and irregular skin tones. Antioxidants can help avoid abnormal skin pigmentation by minimizing photodamage. Some antioxidants can also act as an inhibitor of tyrosinase (an enzyme that activates melanin production).

Boosts Immune System

One of the major antioxidants is vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. It affects almost every part of the immune system. Vitamin C helps the immune system to remove contagious and malignant targets and boost the function of neutrophils that combat infections caused by bacteria. This vitamin also boosts the effectiveness of antibodies involved in detecting and suppressing invasive threats.

Vitamin C also battles free radicals, and serves as a shield to protect from invasive bacteria, viruses, and diseases. Many experiments are demonstrating the potential of vitamin C in decreasing the severity and duration of respiratory infections — particularly the common cold.

The human body isn't capable of producing vitamin C on its own, so a person's diet should be rich in this vitamin. Eat more citrus fruits and tomatoes, and supplemen your consumption of vitamin C with quinoa, spinach, or beans, as iron tends to absorb vitamin C.

Maintains Eye Health

The lenses in your eyes are normally transparent to allow unobstructed light to penetrate. Cataracts are formed as protein particles tend to be accumulated on the surface of the lenses. This will block light rays from going into the eyes, resulting in cloudy vision. Consuming foods that are a rich source of antioxidants will help combat the free radicals that accelerate cataract development.

The light spectrum includes blue light, which has both dangers and benefits. Blue light is present in sunlight, and we get plenty of it from exposure to sunlight. The problem is that more and more our eyes are exposed to additional sources of man-made blue light: fluorescent lights and digital device displays. Wearing computer eyeglasses helps limit blue light exposure. Eating plenty of leafy greens is also beneficial, as the antioxidants in these foods help shield the retinas from blue rays.


Adequate antioxidant consumption is important for a healthy lifestyle, although several types of research indicate that high-dose supplements can be dangerous. The best way to ensure adequate levels of antioxidants is to include plenty of nutritious plant foods, such as fruit and vegetables, in your diet.


Author's Bio: 

A blogger from TX.