Antioxidants are a part of the body's defense and protection mechanism. They are also substances in our food which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. Our body cells naturally produce free radicals when they use oxygen and especially when exposed to pollution, radiation, smoke, sun light and infections.
Antioxidants prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc are all contributed by oxidative damage. Examples of antioxidants are vitamins, polyphenols, and flavonoids.
Wild plants contain more phenols, many of which are antioxidants, than cultivated crops. The amount of phenols continues to grow until the plants flowers. Phenols assist in burning fat, lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL, reduce blood pressure and thus protect from cardio-vascular diseases. They also enchance brain health and help in slowing down aging.
Phenols consist of flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes and tannins. Flavonoids contain various types of flavone compounds. A large part of a plant's antioxidants are flavonoids, which may be stronger antioxidants than vitamins C and E. Flavonoids prevent infections and strenghten capillaries. They also protect the liver, reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disesases, strenghten immunity, prevent allergies, bacteria and virus as well as improve hormonal functions and ability to handle stress.
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Green tea is a sort of tea made out of solely with the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Green tea is originated from China, but has been associated with many Asiatic cultures. Green tea is the least processed among the other type of teas, and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea. Among those health benefits linked to green tea, its antioxidant power is the most known around the world.
Check National Institutes of Health article on Green Tea for more information.