Let's unveil antioxidants

We often hear the term "antioxidant", without knowing what is behind it: where do they come from? Are they beneficial to health? What are their roles? After a few minutes of reading, antioxidants will have no secrets for you.

What is an antioxidant?

An antioxidant is a molecule that helps fight oxidative stress. Behind this stress is the production of unstable molecules called oxygenated free radicals [1]. In too large a quantity, these molecules play a harmful role and damage our cells. Indeed, they degrade the elements around them to regain their stability. This can affect DNA, proteins or even cells.

This stress can be caused by certain factors such as pollution, UV exposure, tobacco, intensive sports... It is also accelerated with age. As the body's capacities are diminished, free radicals take control and induce cellular ageing and tissue degeneration. Effects that are visible on the skin through the appearance of wrinkles, loss of firmness and the appearance of brown spots [2]. This is when antioxidants come in to neutralize these molecules.

How can antioxidants fight oxidative stress?

Free radicals damage our proteins, lipids, cells or even DNA by oxidizing them; meaning they add an oxygen molecule to them. Their objective is simply to stabilize! The functioning of these elements is then modified, and this disrupts the body. Skin ageing is an example of the consequences of oxidation. The role of antioxidants is therefore:

  • To oppose this oxidation mechanism,
  • To slow down the reactions favored by oxygen.

They are essential to protect us from oxidative stress and prevent, among other things, skin aging.

Eating fruits and vegetables the secret to a full antioxidant diet

Without knowing it, with a healthy and varied diet, everyone consumes antioxidants. Many foods contain it naturally. But here are some additional tips for filling up on antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C is best known as having antioxidant activity. It is found mainly in citrus fruits. Why not drink a pressed orange in the morning for its antioxidants at breakfast? This good habit to have in the middle of winter will allow you to fill up on energy and vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E also has a protective action against oxidative stress. You will find it in avocado, oils and nut mixtures. It is also recommended in the National Health Nutrition Program [3] (PNNS) a handful of nuts per day: nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, almonds... so don't hesitate any longer and enjoy yourself!
  • Seasonal green vegetables (broccoli, green beans, spinach, cabbage) are also sources of minerals such as copper, manganese, selenium and zinc[4]. These minerals are equally important to protect our cells from oxidative stress.

The ideal is to opt for a diet rich in fruit and vegetables as recommended by the PNNS, by consuming 5 fruits and vegetables per day... or even more! A simple objective to achieve by consuming smart:

  • 1 fruit pressed for breakfast
  • 1 serving of vegetables for lunch
  • 1 fruit as a snack in the afternoon
  • 1 serving of vegetables at dinner
  • 1 fruit for dessert

It is also possible to supplement to complete the contributions.

You now have all the keys to take full advantage of antioxidants and their benefits! Adapting your diet is child's play when you know the tricks.

[1] Dictionnaire de l’académie de Médecine,2019

[2] Association Française de Médecine Esthétique et anti-âge, Stress oxydatif & radicaux libres, 2016

[3] PNNS, 2019

[4] Ciqual, 2019

[5] Ciqual, 2019