Antioxidants are at the lowest and simplest level, are molecules which inhibit the oxidation process of other molecules. In general oxidation is a process that is widespread and crucial for life. However this process can also damage cells and processes when not controlled. Antioxidants and systems of antioxidants can be found naturally in both plants and animals and protect against the damage caused by oxidation.
For the average person it is important to only understand that stress to the body and it's organisms caused by oxidation can lead to various diseases and illnesses. The resulting damage causing elements that result from oxidation are known as Free Radicals. Antioxidants attack these Free Radicals and prevent damage that can be caused by Free Radicals.
Oxidation and Antioxidants are complex and perhaps explaining again in a different manner will also help to understand better what is behind these processes; Antioxidants are nutrients that come from foods to slow and even prevent damage to our bodies. When your body's cells use oxygen, by-products are formed (free radicals) which cause damage such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. These by-products are actually electrons which are no longer attached to atoms, and they go racing through your body, causing quite a bit of damage along the way. Antioxidants attack these electrons and isolate them so that they cannot harm other body cells.
Antioxidants, by limiting the damage done by Free Radicals, may help in the prevention of Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, and various other diseases. Antioxidants also boost the immune system thereby reducing the risk of catching various illnesses. Boosting of the immune system by antioxidants not only lowers the risk associated with less serious illnesses but also such diseases as cancer.
Antioxidants can naturally be found in many foods but can be found in significant quantities in beans, grains, fruit and vegetables. Tea also contains a great deal of Antioxidants and you can read about Green Tea Benefits as well as Black Tea Benefits and those of other teas in other articles across this site. A side note (an important to most of us) is that Cocoa (a prime ingredient in Chocolate) is also high in Polyphenol Antioxidants!
Polyphenol Antioxidants are a type of antioxidant that is named such because of the structure of the molecule which contains a polyphenolic substructure. It is thought that this specific type of antioxidant is key n combating oxidative stress, which is a prime process that contributes to both heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.
Green tea is among some of the foods where Polyphenol Antioxidants occur naturally and in abundance. Together with honey (which is also a source of this antioxidant) this beverage might be used to significantly lower the risks of the diseases previously mentioned.
Research into the workings and processes behind oxidation and antioxidants is still ongoing and the knowledge base is growing daily. It is important to keep in mind that oxidation is a naturally occurring process and the aim is not to eliminate it altogether, but rather to strike a balance and with the correct use of naturally occurring antioxidants it should be possible to achieve this.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, consultation and services of a qualified Medical Practitioner. All information presented is in summary form and intended only for informational purposes. Always seek immediate medical attention for any illness you may have and never disregard the advice from qualified Medical Practitioners as something you have read on this site (or related sites) could be misinterpreted.