What are antioxidants?


Antioxidants are a much-discussed topic. Yet few people know what antioxidants are and what they do. These are the things you should definitely know about antioxidants.

What are antioxidants?

When we talk about antioxidants, we are talking about substances that can combat free radicals in your body. Free radicals are quite aggressive substances that can cause damage to your body when there are too many of them. Free radicals are therefore linked to chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Your body produces antioxidants itself in the form of glutathione. This allows your body to keep the amount of free radicals in balance. Vitamins E and C are very good antioxidants. These and other antioxidants can be found in vegetables, fruit and superfoods. Antioxidants also play an important role in the food industry to extend the shelf life of foods.

The action of free radicals

Your body continuously produces free radicals. Without antioxidants, free radicals would be very harmful to your body. Yet free radicals are present in our bodies for an important reason. Our immune cells use the free radicals to fight infections. It is therefore always important to have a good balance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body.

If there is an excess of free radicals, this can lead to oxidative stress. If our body is exposed to oxidative stress for a longer period of time, damage can be caused to the cell DNA and other important molecules in our body, ultimately resulting in cell death.

Damage to our cell DNA increases the risk of cancer and some scientists think that free radicals play an important role in the aging process .

There are a number of factors that play a role in an excess of free radicals and the subsequent oxidative stress. These include:

  • Air pollution
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Toxins
  • High blood sugar levels
  • A large consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Radiation, including sunbathing
  • Bacterial, fungal and viral infections
  • Excessive intake of iron, magnesium, copper or zinc
  • Too much or too little oxygen in your body
  • Due to damage to muscles and tissues, for example due to prolonged intensive exercise
  • Excessive consumption of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E
  • A deficiency of antioxidants

What types of antioxidants are there?

We can divide antioxidants into two groups:

  • Enzymatic antioxidants
  • non-enzymatic antioxidants.

The first is produced by the body itself. Vitamins and minerals are important non-enzymatic oxidants and our bodies obtain them from food.

Are antioxidant supplements useful?

Taking antioxidants – for example in the form of pills – does not always help you achieve better health. High concentrations of antioxidants can be dangerous and have an adverse effect and even contribute to oxidative damage.

Although further research is still needed to draw definitive conclusions, most health specialists therefore advise against using antioxidant pills and supplements.

Instead, it's a better idea to include antioxidant-rich foods in your daily diet. The effect of good nutrition on oxidative damage is greater than that of supplements.

A study examined the effects of drinking blood orange juice and sugar water with vitamin C added. The outcome was that the fruit juice had a significantly better antioxidant effect.

The conclusion you can draw from this is that if you want to ensure a good balance between antioxidants and free radicals, you will benefit more from including more fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet and combining this with a healthy diet. lifestyle.

Antioxidants can also be found in our food

It is clear that antioxidants are important for living things. Our body therefore produces antioxidants itself. Plants and animals do this too and that is why we can also find antioxidants in plant and animal products.

Healthy foods contain many antioxidants that may not be essential for our bodies to function, but they play a very important role in good overall health. The health benefits of a diet rich in plant-based foods are largely due to the antioxidants it contains.

Fruit and vegetables with many antioxidants

Antioxidants are produced by our body and can also be found in (healthy) food. Antioxidants help protect your cells against potentially dangerous free radicals. A diet with lots of vegetables, fruit and herbs contains many antioxidants and makes an important contribution to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Scientists have developed various tests to measure the antioxidant value of food. One of the best tests for this is the FRAP analysis, or Ferric Reducing Ability of Plasma. This test measures antioxidant “power” of foods by measuring their ability to neutralize a particular free radical. The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants the food contains.

Vegetables with lots of antioxidants

Broccoli, red lettuce, avocado, asparagus, beetroot, (red) onion, green lettuce, orange peppers, cucumber, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, celery, green peppers, ginger, pineapple

Fruit high in antioxidants

Banana apricots, mango, kiwi, lemon juice, grapefruit, mandarin, pear, orange, cherries, cranberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, plums, blueberries apples, elderberries.

Other foods rich in antioxidants

Cocoa, pecan nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, artichoke, kidney beans, black beans, almonds, olive oil, figs, peanuts, raisins, dates, agave, chocolate, rye bread, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, white wine, green tea. According to some studies, coffee is also an important source of antioxidants, but this is mainly because the average Western person generally does not consume as many foods rich in antioxidants.


Antioxidants are produced by our body, but you also get them through food. Antioxidants help protect your body against harmful free radicals. When these free radicals are present in too large quantities in your body, oxidative stress can arise, which increases your long-term risk of cardiovascular disease, various types of cancer and many other (chronic) conditions.

Fortunately, by choosing a healthy diet you can ensure sufficient antioxidants. You can help your body to neutralize free radicals. This reduces the risk of health problems.

By eating a healthy and varied diet you can boost the amount of antioxidants in your body, which will have benefits - especially in the long term.

If you want to be sure that you get enough fresh fruit and vegetables every day, take a look at our blender recipes.

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