Antioxidant activity is present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, green tea and wine. Vitamin supplements can also be a good source of antioxidants. The benefits of a diet that is high in antioxidants include reduced inflammation, disease prevention, a slower aging process and less oxidative damage.
As the human body is exposed to oxygen, it encounters free radicals that result in small amounts of oxidative damage to cellular tissues. Over time, the damage can accumulate and encourage the development of diseases like cancer. Antioxidant activity helps to counteract this damage, which is also thought to be responsible for the aging process.
A second benefit of antioxidant activity is that it helps to soothe and control inflammation. In addition to oxidative damage, chronic inflammation is thought to be linked to disease and accelerated aging. High levels of environmental stress, poor diet and genetic predisposition can lead to consistent inflammation in the skin and internal organs. Inflammation is the body's natural defense against injury and irritation. Some chronic skin diseases such as rosacea and acne are thought to be caused by systemic inflammation.
Many topical skin products used to treat these diseases contain vitamins that are naturally high in antioxidant activity, such as vitamin C. Wine, which is high in polyphenols, is linked to a reduction in the amount of inflammation in the arteries. This can help to prevent heart disease, hypertension and strokes.
Antioxidants are thought to reduce the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that might increase the risk of heart attacks. Diets rich in whole grains may provide antioxidants that offer protection against heart damage caused by free radicals. In addition, high blood pressure is often reduced with an increase in antioxidant consumption.
It is possible to prevent mild bacterial infections with antioxidants. Bladder infections typically result from a build-up of harmful bacteria. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries and cranberries helps the body cleanse itself naturally and maintain a proper balance of infection-fighting bacteria.
Improved vision is another benefit associated with antioxidants. Studies have linked certain foods to increased ability to see clearly at night and a reduction in the eye symptoms that accompany fatigue. For instance, under-eye puffiness is directly linked to inflammation and can be lessened by consumption of antioxidant supplements.
Possible benefits associated with antioxidant activity that are currently being investigated include a reversal of metabolic syndrome. This disease is characterized by obesity, pre-diabetes and the propensity to gain weight in the abdomen. Glucose tolerance issues such as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are additional components of the syndrome that show some positive response to antioxidants.