Everyone knows that antioxidants help keep you healthy. But relatively few understand why. It's pretty simple, really. Antioxidants nullify oxidation, as their name suggests. Oxidation, or oxidative stress, is the result of the body's burning of fuel (think of a campfire "oxidizing" wood). It's a normal process, but various situations increase oxidation, which causes the body to gradually break down and develop disease. And that's not just theory. Consider a new study from India involving people with chronic kidney disease. The study involved 145 people with chronic kidney disease and 40 people with no known health problems. Each group was asked to answer a questionnaire about what they ate on a regular basis. Blood samples were then taken to determine their antioxidant levels. Guess what? Every single person with kidney disease was eating fewer antioxidant-rich foods than anyone in the "healthy" group and, as a result, had greater oxidative stress in their blood. The study authors stopped short of suggesting that fewer dietary antioxidants could have played a role in the development of kidney disease. Still, with black-and-white study results like this, one has to wonder. Furthermore, when the body is already fighting disease, it's even more important to eat more antioxidant-rich foods (not fewer as found in this study) because, as the study notes, a lack of antioxidants "might elevate the oxidative stress of the body, especially in the chronic diseases." In other words, if you're already fighting something, a lack of antioxidants can only make it worse. Here's a list of the top 8 foods that can help keep your antioxidant tank full:
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)
- Red grapes
- Whole grains
What's your favorite antioxidant-rich food?