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What are antioxidants and why are they so important for a healthy body?

We often hear about antioxidants and how wonderful they are for us. But what exactly is an antioxidant?

Well, an antioxidant is a nutrient that helps protect our bodies from the mass of harmful toxins we're exposed to every day. These unwanted toxins mostly made up of oxidants, hence the name antioxidants. Oxidants are released whenever something is burnt whether it be a cigarette, fuel or even the food our bodies burn for energy.

These devilish little fellows are responsible for damaging the cells that your body is built from which ultimately causes aging and disease. Fortunately, these toxins can be essentially disabled by our friend the antioxidant, the most effective of which come in the form of vitamins A, C and E as well as anthocyanins (the antioxidants found in berries and red/purple vegetables).

The body tries to produce antioxidants on its own but often struggles to cope with the number of oxidants that it is exposed to. Sunlight, smoking, toxins in the air, and many more factors fuel the levels of oxidants in our body.

This is why it's so important to eat the right foods to give our antioxidant levels a boost. A healthy balanced diet with special focus on a few key foods can help your body deal with its oxidant overload.

Many foods that are packed full of oxidants but four of the very best are carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and green tea. Each contains a different type of antioxidant that provides a different benefit to your body.

For example, tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene which provides protection for your skin from aging and sun exposure. Carrots, on the other hand, contain high levels of beta-carotene which is particularly beneficial to the eyes.



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