What are antioxidants? How they protect against diseases and how to eat more
Antioxidants can help your body fight off diseases, and many of us aren't getting enough.
"Antioxidants" is one of those wellness buzzwords you see all over social media and on brand packaging, yet it's still a term with an unclear definition for many people, especially those just beginning to establish healthy habits.
Like other buzzed-about nutrients, antioxidants do have the power to help you live a healthier life, but it's important to know what the term actually means, the extent of the benefits and where to find these so-called nutritional powerhouses.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are important chemical compounds that may help your body delay or prevent cellular damage. They do this by fighting off free radicals, unstable molecules that your body generates as byproducts of its daily functions, such as turning food into energy.
Free radicals also form in response to environmental stressors on your body, including exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke and pollutants.
These harmful molecules come about when atoms in your body lose or gain electrons: Free radicals essentially "steal" electrons from nearby atoms. This can cause changes to the structure or function of your cells, which over time can lead to cellular damage. That damage is called "oxidative stress."