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Antioxidant rich must have foods


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    Antioxidant foods are back in the spotlight – wonder why? Living tires us out. The speed and the pace at which we live can accelerate the wear and tear on our body.


    Too little sleep, an inadequate diet, radiation, pollutants and toxins, can promote oxidative stress and make it difficult for our body to eliminate free radicals. We will look in detail at how to minimise the impact of these free radicals on our cells and why our body deserves special attention in the face of oxidative stresses.

    What is Oxidation?

    Cellular oxidation is a biochemical process essential for the survival of our cells. During this process, cells obtain various nutrients from oxygen to produce energy (ATP). So-called free radicals are a type of waste substance, and if they are not properly expelled they can cause cell damage. 


    Time, chronic stress, and a sedentary lifestyle (which equates to less than 5,000 steps a day) can impair the body’s ability to scavenge free radicals. Antioxidants, both endogenous and from the diet, play an important role in neutralising these free radicals, helping to protect cells against oxidative stress and maintain cellular balance or homeostasis

    What can Antioxidants do?

    Antioxidant foods play a crucial role in protecting the body against oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). If oxidative action is not curbed: 

    • The process of fat oxidation increases the tendency of fats to adhere to blood vessel walls. For this reason, antioxidants are said to promote cardiovascular health.
    • The consequence of oxidative stress on proteins has been linked to cell deterioration and cell death, i.e. it has been linked to incidences of degenerative processes and ageing.
    • The impact of free radicals on genes has been demonstrated to be relevant in the development of tumours.

    As we have just seen, oxidation can damage cells, altering proteins, cell membrane lipids and DNA, contributing to premature ageing and the development of various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.


    What are the BEST antioxidant foods

    By eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods, e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, (rich sources of vitamins C and E, selenium, and flavonoids) the body’s antioxidant system can be strengthened. 


    Not only does eating well help to prevent cell damage and reduce the risk of disease, it can also help to improve immune responses and promote optimal overall health. Antioxidants have even been linked to reproductive health.


    When recommending antioxidant intake, whether through a colour-rich diet or supplements, a prescriber or health professional is advisable to determine the optimal dosing protocol on a case by case basis. 


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    The Top 10 Antioxidant Foods

    What are the most powerful antioxidant foods? Although there are many lists available, all of them contain foods with a high or outstanding content of polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins C and E, as well as other minerals:

    1. Pomegranate, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other red fruits.
    2. Tomato 
    3. Pepper
    4. Green leafy vegetables
    5. Broccoli
    6. Carrot
    7. Citrus fruit
    8. Green tea and cocoa
    9. Almonds
    10. Mushrooms used in traditional medicine: Chaga, Reishi

    This list has been compiled from the documentation of Harvard University published on the website of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As can be seen, many of the foods listed above have more than one antioxidant potential to note:

    • Vitamin C: broccoli, brussels sprouts, melon, cauliflower, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables (spinach, turnips, kale, etc.), melon, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomatoes and peppers.
    • Vitamin E: almonds, avocado, chard, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, red peppers, spinach (boiled) and sunflower seeds.
    • Carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene: apricots, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, melon, carrots, peppers, kale, mangoes, turnips, oranges, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, winter squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes and watermelon.
    • Selenium: nuts, fish, seafood, beef, poultry, barley and brown rice.
    • Zinc: beef and poultry, oysters, shrimps, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, cashew nuts…

    Phenolic compounds: quercetin (apples, red wine, onions), catechins (tea, cocoa, berries), resveratrol (red and white wine, grapes, peanuts, berries), coumaric acid (spices, berries), anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries).

    Chaga, a mushroom with potent antioxidant properties?

    Up to this point, Reishi has been the most renowned and extensively studied mushroom owing to its extensive history in traditional medicine. In fact, thanks to Ganoderma lucidum, other species such as Cordyceps, Shiitake or Lion’s Mane, also of great interest in health care, have been studied in depth.


    Interestingly, the research conducted on Ganoderma lucidum has paved the way for in-depth studies on other species such as Cordyceps, Shiitake, and Lion’s Mane, which also hold significant importance in healthcare.


    Nevertheless in terms of antioxidant rich compounds, attention has shifted to a new species, and one that has demonstrated superior antioxidant properties compared to Reishi. We are talking about Chaga and according to a recent study published in 2021 in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Researchit is 30 times more antioxidant than Reishi


    The Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus), also known as the “pearl of the north”, is a popular mushroom in northern Europe growing on the bark of birch trees, in these latitudinal forests.


    Evidence for antioxidant activity

    If we analyse Chaga’s bioactive compounds, we discover that its antioxidant potency is a result of:

    • betulinic acid: is the most important component of Chaga and ranks first in ORAC for the level of antioxidants in food (Khoroshutin, P., et al, 2021). 
    • inotodiol: has a potent antioxidant activity already described in the scientific literature. 
    • ergothioneine: an antioxidant amino acid that decreases with age. 
    • Polyphenols such as histidine and melanin (rich in sclerotium, a radioprotector against electromagnetic fields).

    How to choose Chaga supplements

    When choosing a Chaga-based supplement, it is advisable to look for pure standardised extracts that do not contain extra ingredients, and are free of toxins and pesticides. It is also advisable to opt for formulas that clearly indicate the beta-glucan content, and have scientific backing. 


    Mico-Chaga by Hifas da Terra contains more than 40% of beta-glucans. We are a laboratory that works with high-quality extracts: our formulas contain only pure beta-glucans, excluding polysaccharides that may come from cereals or contamination. 


    Furthermore, our labelling follows the principle of transparency whereby we show the active biomolecules of interest specific to Chaga (betulinic acid and inotodiol) and we are the only company we know of that will indicate this detail.

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    Reishi or Chaga?

    In both cases we are talking about two great adaptogenic mushrooms, so they can complement each other perfectly. Although the results in 5 tests to measure antioxidant capacity (including the well-known ORAC test) have given the top ranking to Chaga, Reishi is also a mushroom with good results in polyphenols (comparable to green tea) and has also been studied in inflammatory processes and emotional management.

    Does oxidative stress increase with menopause EXPONENTIALLY?

    Some research suggests that women may experience increased oxidation due to hormonal changes associated with menopause. At this stage there may be a decrease in oestrogen levels, that may affect the body’s ability to combat oxidative stress.


    It is also important to note that cellular oxidation varies between individuals and may not follow a predictable pattern when it comes to age or gender. 


    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a diet rich in antioxidants, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, can help reduce the effects of oxidative stress in all ages and genders.


    Summary: Why go for Antioxidant Rich Foods?

    Our bodies are amazing machines, but even the most impressive machines need protection against wear and tear. This is where antioxidants come in, the silent heroes that play a vital role in overall health and wellbeing:

    • Neutralise free radicals: these can arise due to factors such as sun exposure, pollution and poor diet. Antioxidant foods act as defenders by neutralising these radicals before they can wreak havoc.
    • They protect DNA: antioxidants help protect the genetic material of cells from damage, which is crucial for preventing mutations and reducing the risk of diseases such as cancer.
    • Support defences: antioxidants, such as vitamin C, strengthen the immune system, and contribute to the production and proper function of infection-fighting white blood cells; helping us to stay healthy and resist disease.
    • Promote healthy skin: antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene help protect the skin against premature ageing and free radical damage.
    • Cardiovascular support: many antioxidants, including those found in fruits, vegetables and nuts, have been shown to benefit heart health. They help reduce inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
    • They counteract oxidative stress: oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This imbalance can contribute to ageing and various chronic diseases. 

    We recommend that health professionals are best placed to provide guidance on the nutritional needs of each individual. 

    Sources and references:

    • Borsa, C., Ionescu, C., & Prada, G. I. (2015). Oxidized LDL and NO 

      synthesis-Biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and ageing. Mechanisms of ageing and development, 151, 101-113.

    • Prior, Ronald L., and Guohua Cao. “Antioxidant capacity and polyphenols components of teas: implications for altering in vivo antioxidant status.” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 220.4 (1999): 255-261.




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