If we were to ask you if you try to incorporate antioxidants into your diet would you say yes? What if we then asked you whether or not you actually knew what an antioxidant was? Don’t worry. If you answered how we assumed you would — yes to the first; no to the second — then you can count yourselves in the majority: According to MonaVie survey, 92 percent of Americans don’t know what an antioxidant is, despite the fact that 75 percent are trying to eat antioxidant-rich foods.
Well, thankfully, Shape decided to help out the general public with a little tutorial on what antioxidants are, what they can do for you, and where you can find them. But before you learn what an antioxidant is, you have to understand what a free radical is (you’ll know why in a bit). A free radical is from exposure to certain substances, like tobacco smoke or pollution. Once formed, free radicals can do a lot of damage to cells — but that’s why we have antioxidants. These antioxidants interact with the free radicals and prevent them from damaging vital molecules within your body.
So, yes, antioxidants are definitely good for you, but nobody is entirely certain of their exact effect. Some studies have shown that antioxidant-rich diets can even help reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, which is good news across the board. However, nothing it conclusive at this point.
But then the question becomes: Where do I find these antioxidants? Well, you can always take the supplement route, but we encourage you to add these nutrients to your body through your normal diet. Find vitamin C in bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, and cantaloupe; grab some zinc from red meat and poultry, or even whole grains; head for the spinach and nuts for vitamin E. Honestly, it’s not hard to incorporate antioxidants into your diet — just be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables.
And now that you know what antioxidants good for, maybe you’ll be more likely to head to the produce section of the grocery store.