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How Do Antioxidants Prevent and Heal Skin Damage?

Quick Synopsis

Did you know oxidative stress can cause wrinkles, skin damage, inflammation, and even disease? Luckily, there is a way to counteract it: eat antioxidant rich foods.

Antioxidants are found in their highest concentration in dark and colorful fruits, veggies, spices, and seeds. By loading up on these foods, you can actually reduce your risk for harmful diseases, reduce inflammation in your body, and even repair and protect your skin from damage!  

On This Page: 

What is oxidative stress?

What causes oxidative stress?

What are antioxidants?

Which foods are high in antioxidants?

What happens to my skin when I eat more antioxidants?

Key Takeaways

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Before We Start: A Special Gift For You!

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What is oxidative stress?

Before we dive into HOW to bring out your natural beauty with diet, let's talk about the cause of all this skin damage in the first place: oxidative stress.

Although oxidative stress often leads to fine lines and cell damage, it more infamously causes diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and cancer. Yikes! 

How?

Oxidation is a normal process that takes place in the body in which atoms or molecules become unstable because they contain unpaired electrons. These unstable, oxygen-containing molecules are called “free radicals.” Free radicals cause damage to cell structures and DNA by taking electrons from other molecules in order to stabilize themselves.

Antioxidants stabilize free radicals without causing harm. Free radicals, when not met by antioxidants, interact with and damage other molecules in the body, causing large chain chemical reactions, which we call oxidative stress. 

To put it in simpler terms: think of your body as an apple.

If you slice up an apple and leave it on the counter for half an hour, it quickly browns due to its exposure to oxygen. 

If you want to prevent that apple from oxidizing or turning brown, you might toss it in a little bit of lemon juice first, an antioxidant-rich substance. 

Voila! Your apple stays fresh. No brown spots or "aging." The antioxidants from the lemon juice stabilize the process of oxidation and neutralize free radicals. Pretty cool, huh?

The same process happens in your body! The more antioxidants you take in, the more likely you are to preserve your cells.


What causes oxidative stress?

Many factors cause oxidative stress, including alcohol use, toxins in the air and on your skin, sun damage from UV rays, stress, and diet.

Meat is relatively low in antioxidants. The moment an animal dies, its flesh begins to oxidize and continues to oxidize at an even higher rate when cooked, especially at high temperatures.

Nuts and oils also begin to oxidize quickly when cooked at a high temperature, or if they go rancid.

Fruits and veggies, by the way, have an average of 64 times more antioxidants than animal-based foods and are best eaten raw or slightly heated.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds that stop oxidation (like the lemon stops the apple from turning brown).

Fun fact: every living thing on the planet, including humans, produces their own antioxidants.

When it comes to getting antioxidants from our food, plant-based foods can't be beat. They've got the greatest concentration of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids are a few of the essential antioxidants we can get from plant-based foods. 

In general, all antioxidants can slow the aging process, but some of the best ones for the job include: polyphenols, ubiquinol, and botanical antioxidants such as curcumin, resveratrol, and green tea polyphenols.

Which foods are high in antioxidants?

Wondering which foods to eat for an antioxidant boost and healthier skin? Take note of the color of your food. This is the best way to decipher which foods have the highest concentration of antioxidants.

Dark and colorful fruits and veggies tend to store the most vitamin C, especially red peppers.

Just 1 red pepper contains 100% of your DV of vitamin C!

The USDA ranked the top 10 highest antioxidant containing foods:

1. Small Red Bean, 1/2 cup= 13727

2. Wild blueberry, 1 cup =13427

3. Red kidney bean, 1 cup= 13259

4. Pinto bean, 1/2 cup= 11864

5. Blueberry (cultivated), 1 cup= 9019

6. Cranberry, 1 cup= 8983

7. Artichoke (cooked), 1 cup= 7904

8. Blackberry, 1 cup= 7701

9. Prune, 1/2 cup= 7291

10. Raspberry, 1 cup= 6058

Fun fact: Some studies even show the coffee bean is the most common source of antioxidants for Americans. 

What happens to my skin when I eat antioxidants

When consuming a diet rich in antioxidants you may start to notice less inflammation in your body, reduction of wrinkles, and decreased joint and muscle pain. You may find that the symptoms of your chronic disease decelerate, and you may prevent future diseases from occurring. 

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Key Takeaways

  • Common lifestyle factors contribute to oxidative stress, which causes damage and inflammation in the body.
  • This damage can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, and diseases like heart disease and cancer.
  • The best way to counteract oxidative stress is by loading up on antioxidants found in all fruits and veggies, but in the greatest concentration in dark berries, beans, dark leafy greens, seeds, and colorful veggies.

 

FREE Download: 5 Antioxidant Face Mask Recipes to Reverse Wrinkles

 

 

By Caroline DiNicola Fawley

Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

What you should do now

  1. We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
  2. If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our Heartbeet Journal where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
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