Antioxidants are molecules that fight off free radicals in our body. Free radicals are harmful compounds that cause damage to the body, leading to infections and diseases like diabetes and cancer, and could even lead to death. Antioxidants neutralise these free radicals and keeps your body healthy and strong. Having antioxidants in your body is essential to your survival.
The body is capable of generating antioxidants and we also take in antioxidants when we eat foods that are rich in them. Antioxidants are more than your regular nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, although some vitamins qualify as antioxidants. While those are very essential as well, antioxidants belong to another class and are equally important. That means, you have to make sure that your diet contains foods that are rich in antioxidants. If you eat more of antioxidant-rich foods, your body would be able to fight off free radicals before they do any damage.
The good thing is, such foods are not hard to get and today, we would be exploring some of them.
1. Dark Green Vegetables
How many times were you told to eat your vegetables as a child? You may not like the way they taste, but vegetables are quite healthy as they contain a bunch of good stuff, like vitamins and minerals, plus it is rich in antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants in vegetables include beta-carotene (found in spinach), indoles (found in cabbage), lutein (found in most green leafy vegetables), and more. While the antioxidants found in vegetables might seem different, they all perform the same function, which is to keep your body healthy.
Some other comm dark green leafy vegetables in Nigeria include: bitter leaves, wild lettuce (efo yanrin), scent Leaf (nchuanwu, efirin), fluted pumpkin leaves (ugu), lemon basil, jute leaves (ewedu).
Just like vegetables, fruits are also healthy and you should eat more of them. Fruits like mangoes, berries, grapes, and oranges, are rich in a range of antioxidants that keep your body protected from free radicals and other agents. Fruits like orange, mango, and strawberry are rich in vitamin C, which is a very powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, keeping infections at bay. Some other antioxidants you find in other fruits include cryptoxanthins, and anthocyanins.
Common Nigeria fruits rich in antioxidants include: Nigerian pear, apple, paw paw, mango, grape, guava, and garden egg.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains are grains that have the all three parts intact – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. It is considered to be healthier than regular grain as it contains more nutrients, including antioxidants. Examples of whole grains in Nigeria include whole wheat, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, and millet. Whole grains are healthy enough for people with diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.
Beans is also another food that is quite nutritious. It is rich in protein, fibre, and other nutrients, including antioxidants. The fibre in beans promotes healthy bowel movements and prevents constipation. The antioxidants help fight free radicals, reduces inflammation, and suppresses cancer growth.
Fish is a good source of selenium, which is regarded as an antioxidant. Selenium has so many benefits on the body, including reducing the risk of certain cancers, preventing mental decline, protecting against heart disease, and boosting the immune system. All in all, consuming selenium would do your body a whole lot of good.
The protective effect of antioxidants on the body cannot be overemphasized. These powerful antioxidant-rich foods in Nigeria should be eaten as often as possible. Remember, a diet high in antioxidants can alleviate the risk of many diseases, including cancers.
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