What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that can inhibit oxidation. In our bodies such oxidation processes keep happening all the time and such reactions produce free radicals in the body. These free radicals are highly reactive substances and they can permanently damage DNA and proteins and can cause cell, tissue and organ damage. Our body has natural antioxidants like vitamins C, vitamins E and glutathione. Such antioxidants can destroy the free radicals. In this process if level of antioxidants is high in the body it can result in oxidative stress in the cells, tissues and organs. Such oxidative stress can cause chronic inflammation and damage to blood vessels, nerves, tissues and organs.
People who suffer from diabetes, in that case, the blood sugar glucose, proteins and lipids are heavily oxidised and it is known as Advanced Glycation End products or AGEs.
Antioxidants and diabetes
Several scientific studies have found that oxidative stress is strongly associated with diabetes. It is also particularly associated with the complications of diabetes. The use of antioxidants which may come from food sources or as supplements, is always an active area of study in diabetes research. Antioxidants can prevent and potentially reverse damage from oxidative stress. They can do so by reducing damage to the endothelium. This is a layer of cells that line blood vessels.
Scientific studies have found that people who you eat a diet high in antioxidants have low rates of diabetes. Such scientific studies also found that a diet high in antioxidants can help in reversing early diabetes. Such a diet can reduce the complications of diabetes and also help in controlling it.
Good sources of antioxidants
Antioxidants are available in different types of foods. Besides helping in diabetes, they can also reduce the risks of heart disease, arthritis, stroke and ageing. Anthocyanins which is available in berries and purple colour fruits and vegetables, allium compounds that contain sulphur which are available in onions, garlic and leeks, beta-carotenes found in yellow, orange foods and dark, leafy green vegetables, catechins found in red wine and teas, flavonoids which are present in teas, red wine, citrus fruits are some of the good food sources of antioxidants.
Antioxidant vitamins include vitamins A, C, E and the beta carotenoids. Minerals like manganese, zinc and selenium also work as antioxidants.
It is very important for you to include as much brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans and legumes as possible in your diet. When you do that you will have plenty of antioxidants in your food that will go in to your body and will offer you all the benefits of antioxidants. The foods that contain high levels of antioxidants are also the foods that are recommended to control diabetes. If you have diabetes, you need to consume whole foods rather than processed foods.
You can always take antioxidants through food or in supplement form and it does not depend on the type of diabetes you have. Any type of diabetic person can consume more foods that contain antioxidants because they will help you to control high blood sugar levels that are the cause of the oxidative stress and all types of diabetes have that problem.
Below, find a list of the foods highest in antioxidants. You can choose whatever you like from the list and include in your diet.
- Dark, leafy green vegetables: Kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, Swiss chard
- Berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, Brazil nuts
- Seeds: flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Herbs and spices: oregano, thyme,Ã turmericÃ (curry), onions, garlic, cumin, parsley
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts
- Sources of Vitamin C: Mangoes, Papayas, oranges, lemons, limes, bell peppers (especially red peppers)
- Fruit: grapes, apricots, peaches, avocados, grapefruit, tomatoes