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Foods that protect us from free radicals

Radicales libres

Our bodies create free radicals through metabolic processes to protect us from viruses and bacteria. However, our bodies sometimes produce too many oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons. This is where free radicals become dangerous, freely reacting with other molecules due to the extra electron called ‘oxidation’.

To protect us from this process, we need antioxidants to help stabilize these unpaired electrons. If there is too much oxidative stress in our body, we start to react negatively. This could be anything from damaged DNA to cell death.

Foods that protect us from free radicals:


Saponins are beans or legumes. This can include chickpeas, peas, beans, lentils and more. ONE studying to test the effects of saponins on rat free radicals. After conducting the study, it was found that the antioxidant activity increased with the presence of saponins.

allyl sulfides

Allyl sulfides, best known in foods like onions, garlic, leeks and chives. While it is an antioxidant that protects you from free radicals, allyl sulfides also protect your brain by keeping your gut healthy. Antioxidant properties, however, are found in ‘diallyl sulfides’. These also have anti-inflammatory properties.


Lignans are found in seeds. Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds and more. Thanks to the antioxidant metabolic processes they go through, lignans are great ways to protect yourself from free radicals. Lignans also protect you from developing cancer! Enterolactone is the substance found in the intestine due to bacteria formed from lignans that function as antioxidants.

phytic acid

Phytic acids are whole grains and legumes. That’s wheat, oats, rice, black beans, kidney beans and more. Phytic acids are excellent natural antioxidants through their metabolic processes. Its iron compound suppresses the oxidative reactions catalyzed by iron which, in turn, considers it an antioxidant. Not only that, but they help fight colon cancer!


Carotenoids are those foods that have a natural pigmentation of orange, red or yellow. The colors that carotenoids produce are formally known as lycopene (red), lutein (yellow), and zeaxanthin (orange). Carotenoid foods include tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, and more. Carotenoids are a great source of antioxidants, mainly in photooxidative processes.


O curcumin is a yellow pigment from a plant. Found in things like turmeric, we can label them as antioxidants. Not only are they antioxidants, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties! By protecting against oxidative damage to membranes, we can also find curcumin to be an excellent way to fight carcinogens.

Other foods against free radicals


Indoles can be found in a ton of different household vegetables. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and more. Indole derivatives have been found to have antioxidant properties. They are not only antioxidants, but also cytoprotective (the ability to protect against injury to the gastric mucosa).


These are what we know as green, leafy vegetables. Not just these, but garlic, asparagus, watermelon, and more. Glutathione works best in the liver to fight free radicals and act as an antioxidant. This is because glutathione synthesis works in conjunction with hepatocytes (liver cells).


Isoflavones are like legumes. High in soy content, you can find them in soy milk, soy beans, soy nuts, and more. These are excellent sources of antioxidants and other health benefits. ONE studying test antioxidant efficacy with promising results of enhanced antioxidant action.


Flavonoids are popular antioxidants. Depending on their colors, anthocyanins (purple/pink), resveratrol (blue) and quercetin (red) each have antioxidant properties. These can be found in grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and more. In one study, it was found that they are not only antioxidants, but also function as antimicrobials, photoreceptors, antiallergic, and antivirals.

For the health fitness revolution. Article in English

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