Best antioxidant foods: The two vital components


In today’s busy schedule of meetings and travel, we expose ourselves to sunlight a lot more than required.
Ultraviolet radiation is the primary risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma cancers. Overexposure to the high intensity of the sun causes the accumulation of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species), resulting in unnecessary oxidation. This accumulation damages lipids, proteins, and DNA. ROS also results in over-expression of Collagenase, which is a protease that results in the degradation of collagen, the primary foundation of the dermis layer. This activity of Collagenase results in photo-aging and wrinkling of the skin. Besides, UV exposure induces melanin production that leads to hyperpigmentation. It can lead to rashes and blackness of skin on the face and other exposed parts. We need to consume natural antioxidant foods like fruits and vegetables.

The phenolic compounds and vitamin C concentration in a specific food defines its antioxidant capacity.

Current treatments for skin

The current treatment involves peeling the epidermal layer and administration of collagen into the skin. Adverse effects include cytotoxicity, irritation, and hyper-pigmentation. Additionally, researchers now focus on natural products that inhibit UV-induced ROS and reduce melanin formation as an alternative to current treatments. For example, active phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, and polyphenols, inhibit melanogenesis. Thus, natural antioxidants may reduce wrinkle formation and hyper-pigmentation caused by sunlight exposure.

Natural treatment

Fruits (berries and tomato), leaves such as Tulsi, curry leaves, and green leafy vegetables like spinach are the best antioxidants available and can help us overcome this problem. Antioxidants are compounds that help the cells in the event of oxidative stress due to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which can lead to a chain reaction that can damage the cells. Phytochemicals and ascorbic acid terminate this chain reaction. It is a therapeutic method of preventing related diseases and has become a hotspot in the field of medicine.

The antioxidant capacity of Vitamin-C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid acts as a redox buffer scavenging the ROS and nitrogen oxide species, serving as the best antioxidant agent in food. It is an essential water-soluble component. Thus, it can work both inside and outside the cell. Besides, vitamin C has various other inherent properties, like maintaining cell growth and signal transduction. It also improves iron absorption and enhances immunity. Its deficiency leads to scurvy disease.

Humans lost the gene coding for ascorbic acid due to a mutation and thus are dependent. Some other animal species can’t synthesize ascorbic acid and therefore depend on plants. Plants are a vibrant source of Vitamin C. The accumulated content is present in the chloroplast.

Reactive oxygen species are the free radicals that damage the cell. Prolonged conditions lead to cancer. The free radicals are highly unstable and reactive to satisfy their electron deficiency. Vitamin C is abundant in electron donors, making it an effective antioxidant agent. It donates its electrons (both second and third carbon) to the free radicals quenching for stability.

Besides, it is involved in the first life of defense protecting the proteins from oxidative damage. After its activity of election donation, it reduces to dehydroascorbic radicals. It is then regenerated back to Vitamin C in the presence of NADPH by the action of dehydroascorbate reductase. Thus, the dehydroascorbate is reused for metabolism, further releasing more elections.

Best antioxidant-rich vitamin C foods

  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprout
  • Capsicum
  • Papaya and
  • Cantaloupe

The activity of phenolic compounds in antioxidation

Leafy vegetables and fruits like berries, including raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are a great source of phenolic compounds.

Berries

Among the foods that have a  high antioxidant capacity, berries are at the top of the chart. They are four times more effective than fruits and ten times more effective than vegetables. Apart from their antioxidant property, they are also great anticancer agents—the phenolic and bioactive agents like Vitamin C, followed by anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Among berries, strawberries are the functional fruit as they consist of diverse bioactive compounds and are rich in Vitamin C and E.

Also, these berries are rich in phytochemicals that include aromatic rings with hydroxyl groups. These free hydroxyl groups scavenge free radicals by donating their hydrogen, making their structure more stable. The ripe fruits consist of more phenols than the unripe one, making it more effective. Acute consumption decreases oxidative stress, increasing the antioxidant capacity in the serum, thereby increasing the body’s defense mechanism.

Leafy vegetables and curry leaves

Plant leaves consist of chlorophyll, which is stable due to its conjugate structure. It is unstable and fails to protect the plant under very high-intensity light. It immediately sends the light to Oxygen resulting in ROS. Carotenoids-the accessory pigments-present in the leaf play a significant role by protecting chlorophyll. It is the best thermal dissipator. As soon as it absorbs the extra light, it sends the light out via heat-a thermal dissipator.

Eating leaves allows the carotenoids to enter our system and act as a natural antioxidant. It’s for the same reason that our ancestors ate in a banana leaf. When the hot rice is put on top of the leaf, the carotenoids move due to thermal expansion. They mix with the food on top of the leaf, which we consume.

Even the best synthetic antioxidants available out in the market consist mainly of vitamin C, carotenoids, and other phytochemicals. These synthetic products are highly efficient but also have many side effects. The herbal products out in the market also have the same ingredients. We highly recommend the natural way as it is highly efficient and has few disadvantages.

Foods with antioxidant-rich phenolic compounds

  • Cocoa
  • Potato
  • Yam
  • Kale
  • Mexican oregano and
  • Celery seeds

Moreover, it is essential to note that antioxidants may not work the same way in everyone. The best explanation is the use of antioxidants more than the recommended amount. A study suggests that smokers who consumed more antioxidants than the recommended level worsened their symptoms. The theory best explaining this condition is the ‘antioxidant paradox.’ “Dose makes it the poison”– High amounts of antioxidants can turn into pro-oxidants contributing to the effect of free radicals and cell damage.

Finally, to minimize oxidative stress consume plenty of fruits and vegetables; avoid smoking and obesity. Include daily exercise in your diet regime as well.

Related: How vitamin C helps in increasing immunity

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