Researchers in California have come to an alarming conclusion: Upon going through exhaustive data from various studies on oxidation, they noted that gender was the biggest factor in higher oxidation levels, even higher than smoking. They found that women have a higher tendency towards oxidation than men. In other words whether you’re a smoker or not is less of a factor in oxidation (though it is a significant factor) than whether you are a woman or not.
Oxidation is a bad thing because it damages vital cellular molecules, including fatty molecules, DNA and protein that are essential to proper functioning. This can lead to the death of cells. Oxidation occurs because of free radicals, or molecules of oxygen with an uneven number of electrons, which makes them more reactive and lends them the ability to set off uncharacteristic and undesirable chemical chain reactions in your body. Yes, read that again. Chemical. Chain. Reactions.
That’s because it is.
What is oxidation and why do we need antioxidants?
Not all oxidation is bad. Oxidation is essential but there needs to be a balance between oxidation /free radicals and antioxidants. When there is an imbalance, you have what is known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress, or an excess of free radicals in the body, can make you age sooner. This is the reason why a lot of women are somewhat aware of antioxidants – because they’ve heard about it with regards to anti-ageing or might have read “antioxidant properties” on some sort of anti-ageing potion.
But oxidative stress can have more serious implications as well and not a lot of women are aware that it can lead to a host of diseases including:
- Hardening of blood vessels
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
What are antioxidants and why are they added to foods
Antioxidants are added to food to reduce the chances of changing their smell and taste on account of oxidation.
This is an example of additive antioxidants where the goal is to prevent the food item from becoming non consumable, rancid or distasteful.
But there are also foods that are high in antioxidants – natural antioxidants at that – which women should consider including in their diet, in order to minimize the damaging effects of free radicals and oxidation.
Antioxidant rich foods to consider:
9.2 mmol per 100 grams
Not the cheesecake; the actual blueberries, flavourful little berries that you can get fairly easily at most online grocery brands (at a slightly hefty price tag). Blueberries are said to be the best source of antioxidants because it comes under the fruit category and does not offer any known side effects.
Broccoli is not only an antioxidant but is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Moreover, if you’re concerned with the aesthetics of your food – as many people today are- broccoli certainly adds aesthetic value to your vegetable stir fry or pasta or whatever you think of adding it to.
Not as commonly consumed, Barley is fairly easily available in India. Consume barley sprouts for your dose of antioxidants – in its sprout version, the level of antioxidants in Barkey is drastically increased as is the level of absorption in the body.
Dark chocolate: Yay! Chocolate!
15 mmol per 100 grams
Dark chocolate comes with lots of antioxidants and minerals and has a fairly low glycemic index. Additionally, dark chocolate reduces bad cholesterol levels. It’s antioxidant value is one of the highest.
2.7 to 4.1 mmol per 100 ounces
One of the focus ingredients amidst current food trends, kale is now fairly accessible in online grocers and in department style grocers that sell imported food items. It is rich in a lot of vitamins in addition to being a good antioxidant. The red varieties of kale have higher antioxidative properties
10.6 mmol per 100 grams
These delicious nuts come from Mexico and South America. You might need to pay a slightly high price for them here in India and you might require to shop around a little because you might not find them at your typical neighborhood kirana grocer. They make a great snack but must be consumed in moderation as they are high in calories.
5.4 mmol per 100 grams
It’s almost strawberry season, folks! Grab a box and gorge on these to enjoy their antioxidant properties. This is one of the easiest natural antioxidants to get your hands on here in India.
15 mmol per 100 grams
Packed with protein, low in cholesterol and incredibly wholesome, Rajma is a staple in most Indian households and therefore an affordable and easily accessible food high in antioxidants. Experiment with different preparations if you do not like the flavour. Various indian cultures have a variety of Rajma recipes and you can even try the Mexican style preparation for a change
2.2 mmol per 100 grams
Actually, they are purple in colour. Besides adding a pop of colour to your plate, purple/red cabbage is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Do not steam it; stir fry it to take the maximum antioxidant properties out of it.
1 mmol per 100 gms
Get your Pop-Eye on ladies! He’s “strong to the finish cos he eats his spinach” and you can be not just strong, but youthful with this leafy green. Again, if you don’t vlije spinach it is probably because you have not experimented with it sufficiently. Aside from frying it, try a variety of preparations. Add it to a pasta,vor throw in some nuts and plenty of garlic to balance out that iron-ish flavour.
Conclusion: Smart women employ the use of antioxidants, natural antioxidants in particular, to stay youthful and strong and healthy. Be mindful and consume more foods high in antioxidants.