Antioxidants: everybody loves them, few actually know what they are. Yes, Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, but so are lots of other things!
Key antioxidants include Vitamins C, D, E, and resveratrol. These are called non-enzymatic antioxidants, and are the big ones that you hear about most of the time, but antioxidants also come in other forms. Enzymatic antioxidants are just as important, and the big ones include superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione.
Now, the antioxidant function is most commonly thought of in the context of helping to eliminate free radicals in your body. Maybe you've seen the late night infomercials. Well, surprisingly it's not entirely BS. But what exactly are free radicals, anyway?
At a chemical level, free radicals are molecules that are missing one or more electrons, which turns them into biological bullies. These incomplete molecules are floating through your body and start attacking other molecules in order to replace their missing electrons. The primary way that these incomplete molecules find electrons is stealing them from proteins in the body, resulting in damage to DNA and other cell structures. The reaction that occurs in these attacks is called “oxidation”, or "oxidative stress", which is caused by too much oxygen in bodily tissues.
So what causes missing electrons and free radicals damage to begin with? Anything related to inflammation. Free radicals are a natural response to exercise, stress, smoke, and other toxins.
Once all these free radicals are created in our bodies from daily stress and exposure, our antioxidants come to the rescue! Antioxidants lend extra electrons to free radicals, which repair them and eliminate their harmful activity.
In general, antioxidants provide benefits such as:
In addition to enzymatic and non-enzymatic, antioxidants can also be categorized as water-soluble and lipid-soluble, properties which affect how and where certain antioxidants can be effective in the body. These two types are important because cell interiors and the fluid between cells is generally water-based, whereas cell walls are fat-based (made of lipids).
Lipid-soluble antioxidants include vitamins A, E, carotenoids and lipoic acid, and are only active in cell walls. Water-soluble antioxidants include vitamin C, polyphenols, and glutathione, and they’re active in other areas. Note that even though they’re all vitamins, vitamins A, E, and C fall into different categories. Since different antioxidants are active in both water- and fat-soluble environments, it’s important to have both types in your diet.
Traditionally, we’re told that antioxidants are best found in berries, chocolate, and red wine. While these are good sources of these vital molecules, antioxidants are also found in very high quantities in tea. Yerba mate is a particularly powerful antioxidant tea, it's loaded with Vitamin A, C, E, and several polyphenols. Impressively, it contains the highest antioxidant content out of any tea.
Introducing more antioxidants into your weekly nutrition is easy when you're sipping on some of our Chocolate Hustle adaptogenic tea. In addition to being a great antioxidant tea, it's loaded with specially selected adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress response in the body and support brain function. Upgrade your daily nutritional intake, try some Chocolate Hustle tea today.
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Lanari, M., M. Reta, and J. Valerga. Polyphenol input to the antioxidant activity of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) extracts. LWT Food and Science Technology. Jan 2012, 45:1, 28-25.
Passwater, Richard. The Antioxidants: the amazing nutrients that fight dangerous free radicals, guard against cancer and other diseases – and even slow the aging procees. New Canann, CT: Keats Pub., 1997.