What are antioxidants & why do we need them?
The term “antioxidants” has been a buzz word in health and beauty for decades. But what exactly are antioxidants, why do we need them and how can we get a plentiful supply?
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules found in certain fruits, vegetables, types of tea and other foods, that help fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable cells that are produced naturally within the body as a by-product of our bodily processes, including breathing, or from external factors like pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol and sunlight.
If your school science lessons are a bit hazy, free radicals are molecules which contain an unpaired electron and which, to make themselves whole again, “steal” electrons from nearby cells. This causes a domino effect of damage. Antioxidants “donate” electrons to free radicals so that they don't have to “steal”, helping prevent and reduce damage.
We actually need a balance of free radicals to be healthy: it’s only when they get out of balance that they can cause problems. When too many free radicals accumulate, a process called oxidative stress can occur - damaging cell structures and contributing to ageing. Oxidative stress has also been linked to the development of certain illnesses including cancer, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Why are antioxidants so important for our skin?
According to Abigail James, the international facialist and leading skin expert, “antioxidants are essential when it comes to staving off the ageing process and preventing damage to the skin, particularly in the long-term. Free radicals can damage collagen, which can cause skin dryness, fine lines, wrinkles and premature ageing. Our body produces an army of antioxidants to defend itself against free radicals, which act a little like a chill pill to rebalance and calm the unstable cells down.
Nutrition, supplements and skincare ingredients high in antioxidants are vital for preventing cell damage, premature ageing and restoring health and balance. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet will make a big long-term difference to your complexion and will do wonders to repair, rejuvenate and brighten your skin.”
How do we get a good supply of antioxidants in our diet?
Examples of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, carotenoids, lycopene and flavanols, which can be found in a wide variety of foods.
Opinions vary about how many antioxidants we should eat in a day (and how to measure them) however the general advice is that we should aim to eat between 5-8 servings of antioxidant-rich foods a day. The more antioxidants we can squeeze into our diet the better!
Here are 6 of the world's most antioxidant-rich foods:
Regular cacao is well known for its high antioxidant content and Aduna Super-Cacao Powder takes this to new levels. With 8x the flavanol content of regular cacao powder, it is an antioxidant powerhouse. It is also the first cacao scientifically proven to support healthy blood flow, ensuring an even greater supply of nutrients, water and oxygen to the skin, supporting a healthy cell turnover and giving you a glowing, blemish-free complexion. Who needed a better excuse to enjoy healthy chocolate treats every day!
Cherries are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids and have a considerable amount of skin-loving vitamins A and C. The fruit's dark red colour comes from its high content of antioxidants. A perfect snack for the 3pm slump!
The African superfruit baobab has the highest antioxidant content of any fruit according to The Journal of Nutrition. Baobab powder has twice the antioxidants gram per gram of goji berries and more than blueberries and pomegranates combined. A single serving of Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder (2-3 teaspoons) also provides 33% of your daily Vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is essential for skin health, supporting collagen formation and protecting the cells from oxidative stress and your body can’t make its own so you need to get a good supply from food every day.
Walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help strengthen the membranes of your skin cells, locking in moisture and keeping out toxins. Walnuts are the superheroes of the nut world - that's why we paired them with cacao to create our antioxidant packed energy bar.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric make it a powerful skin agent. Applied topically as a paste (mixed with water or coconut oil), it can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, and skin conditions such as ache, eczema and psoriasis.
The nutrient-dense leaves of the Moringa Tree are one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants. Aduna Moringa Superleaf Powder has an ORAC value of 157,000, which equates to 6x the antioxidants of goji berries. It is also a rich source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress. With a green spinachy flavour, use it to bolster green smoothies, soups, salads or as a superfood seasoning for savoury dishes.
The Ultimate Skin-Loving Smoothie Recipe
One of the easiest and most delicious ways to ensure you get your antioxidant fix is to make a super-charged fruit smoothie in the morning packed with antioxidant rich foods.