When a banana is cut, it turns brown.
After a while, a piece of previously tasty looking fish turns smelly and slimy.
When you cut your finger, the wound becomes inflamed and red.
All these things are caused by a process in nature known as oxidation, and it happens to all cells from everything in nature from plants and foodstuffs to animals and your body.
But oxidation is not a good thing in general, it is what leads us to become old and eventually die.
It is behind many illnesses that can make up very frail and weak.
But nature has its way and for every ying there is a yang in nature, oxidation is counteracted by antioxidants, which can be found in many raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains.
This is why it is so important to eat a good healthy diet it is what supports your body’s defence mechanisms to prevent you from falling ill and getting nasty diseases.
Oxidation occurs when oxygen interferes with any cells.
Since your lungs take in the oxygen that you breathe and it is carried around the body by the blood, oxidation can occurin any cells in your body. It also occurs in plants, fruits, vegetables and other foods and anything with living cells when oxygen interacts with the cells.
When the oxygen interacts with cells, it triggers a chemical change in those cells, eventually leading to the death of the cells.
In some instances, such as when we get a cut, new cells grow and take the dead cells place meaning that the cut heals.
But in the instance of fruit and vegetables that are no longer attached to a living plant, the cells die and they rot.
Cell death and formation is a continuous cycle that never ends in the body and it is an important process that ensures that your body remains healthy and in good condition.
But unfortunately there are disadvantages associated with oxidation too.
A very small number of the cells transform into free radicals in the oxidation process, which basically means bad cells that cause problems in the body.
These cells do not contain a vital molecule that is normally responsible for pairing up molecules in cells, and so the free radicals will latch onto any other molecule to satisfy the need to pair up.
When free radicals are looking for their missing molecule, they kill and attack other cells in the body, but in some cases the attacked cell is simply damaged beyond repair which mutates the DNA in the cell and this is the basis for disease and illness.
The damaged cell may then go on to multiply and reproduce in an abnormal way.
By eating foods that are high in antioxidants, you can reduce the amount of free radicals roaming the body and thus vastly cut the risk of severe diseases and illnesses.
Toxins taken into the body, such as the chemicals ingested via smoking, air pollution, pesticides and alcohol and so on actually create free radicals in the body and so increase the risk of problems with your health.
A diet high in raw fruits and vegetables will help to prevent damage from free radicals in the body by reducing the amount of free radicals
Antioxidants are key to a healthy body, longevity, feeling younger for longer and helping to fight disease and illness.
Which foods contain the most and best antioxidants?
Antioxidants are the natural chemicals in food that neutralise free radicals, which are known to be a contributing factor to many serious illnesses and disease.
At the University of Osla, researchers conducted a study to find out what foods contain the highest concentration of antioxidants and they tested over a thousand common types of foods readily available to us.
The results showed that the top antioxidant rich foods.
Just a single serving of blackberries (around 50g) contains the most antioxidants of all of the berry fruits that were included in the study.
This means that blackberries contain more antioxidants than strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries.
The same serving also contains 50% of the RDA of vitamin C.
Walnuts are also packed with antioxidants.
A single ounce (around 10 walnuts) contains enough antioxidants for your daily required intake to reduce your risk of many serious illnesses.
But don’t overdo it on nuts as they do contain lots of calories.
They are a great source of omega-3 too however, so it’s a good snack alternative once a day.
Not surprisingly we have more berries on the list.
Strawberries are not only brimming with vitamin C and fibre, they also contain antioxidants to help break down free radicals in the body and help the body fight against cancer and disease.
4. Artichoke Hearts
Artichoke hearts are high in antioxidants too and they have lots of other health benefits.
They are well known for aiding digestion, help to lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and liver problems.
They also have anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the content of Rutin, a type of antioxidant.
A 50g serving of cranberries contains lots of cancer fighting and disease fighting antioxidants.
They contain the flavanoid called quercetin, which has been shown in studies to help fight colon and breast cancers.
Cranberry juice is also known to help prevent and fight cystitis and is good for heart health.
This is a controversial one, because the caffeine content in coffee is known not to be so great for health, but brewed coffee has a very high antioxidant content, it is therefore recommended that you only have small amounts of coffee.
Another berry to add to your diet for an antioxidant punch is raspberries, and they contain more antioxidants when they are fully ripe.
They also contain plant phenols which can help to reduce the risk of diabetes, although the sugar content makes them unsuitable if you already have diabetes.
8. Pecan Nuts
Pecan nuts are a great natural free radical fighter as they contain high levels of antioxidants.
They are also rich in vitamin E, contain high levels of magnesium and also help to lower cholesterol.
Blueberries are a well known super food and they contain lots of flavanoids that help to neutralise any free radicals in the body.
Blueberries have another benefit though which will grab your attention, they keep you youthful and have anti-ageing properties!
Cloves are another antioxidant rich food and you can easily add them to meals by using ground cloves instead of fresh.
These also contain lots of fibre.