What Are Antioxidants?
Oxygen is essential for life, but it also contributes to the formation of free radicals — molecules that can destroy cell membranes in the body and speed up the aging process. Free radicals are byproducts of natural processes such as breathing and digesting, but exposure to sunlight, smoke, and pollution can also lead these molecules to accumulate in our bodies. If not cleared from our system, free radicals can cause cell damage and contribute to the development of different illnesses. Fortunately, our bodies leverage antioxidants — disease-fighting substances designed to keep free-radical damage in check. The body naturally produces some antioxidant compounds while others are obtained through the nutrient rich foods we eat. Many different food groups are a source of antioxidants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, red wine, and dark chocolate. By neutralizing free radicals and preventing cell damage, antioxidants help boost our health and bolster our immune system.