If you are interested in antioxidants, you probably already know the basics. As we age, free radicals in our bodies create oxidative stress. Antioxidants are substances that are able to counteract free radicals, thus helping us to fight some of the effects of age.
Because antioxidants can be so beneficial, they are now available in supplement form. But can taking an antioxidant capsule each day really help you protect your health? Let’s take a look at what the research has to say. Along the way, you will learn why it is important to make sure that you are getting polyphenols in your diet.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains here that some studies have shown benefits from taking antioxidant supplements, but others have not.
This may surprise a lot of people, who may be dismayed to realize the antioxidant supplement they are taking daily might not be conferring the intended benefits.
Why would antioxidant supplements underperform in some research studies? Harvard proposes an explanation involving polyphenols, stating, “A cup of fresh strawberries contains about 80 mg of vitamin C, a nutrient classified as having high antioxidant activity. But a supplement containing 500 mg of vitamin C (667% of the RDA) does not contain the plant chemicals (polyphenols) naturally found in strawberries like proanthocyanins and flavonoids, which also possess antioxidant activity and may team up with vitamin C.” The site adds, “Polyphenols also have many other chemical properties besides their ability to serve as antioxidants.”
While more research is required to identify the exact mechanisms responsible for food sources of antioxidants producing more consistent benefits than supplement sources, we know that polyphenols are important for our health. That is why you should eat a nutritious diet that contains polyphenols. It also means that when you are looking for an antioxidant supplement to take, you may want to consider a product with polyphenols.
If you want to try adding more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet, some recommendations include:
You can also eat other fruits and vegetables as well as healthy meats and whole grains.
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One example of an antioxidant supplement that might be worth trying is olive leaf extract. WebMD explains, “The antioxidants in olive leaf extract are mainly polyphenols.” Olive leaf extract may help to support cardiovascular health and immune function.
Keep in mind that antioxidant supplements—even those that contain polyphenols—are not proven to cure or prevent any disease. But they offer you a simple and convenient way to provide your body with some extra free-radical-fighting nutrition.
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