Nutrition advice comes as standard when I take on a personal training client. One of the things I look out for is whether my clients are getting enough antioxidants, to combat the free radicals (unstable molecules which can lead to cancer and ageing) in your system.
Another key role of antioxidants is to help reduce the build-up of LDL (bad cholesterol) in your bloodstream. People with high-sugar diets (most of the UK population) build up high levels of LDL, which causes harmful plaque in your arteries.
Cholesterol in your food is not harmful, as harmful LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream is not increased by eating foods high in cholesterol. Around 75% of cholesterol in your system is manufactured in your body, and if you eat more cholesterol, the body produces less. Many people mistakenly think for example that eggs are bad for you because of the cholesterol.
Good cholesterol, HDL, is vital for scraping plaque from the arteries and for other functions too. Most people need higher levels of HDL than they already have.
Persistent Organic Pollutants
What else do antioxidants do for us? They help combat the increasing number of POP’s (persistent organic pollutants) in our environment. Examples include smoke from burning waste, chemicals in car exhausts, fumes from paint, pesticides, aerosol sprays. The more antioxidants we include in our diet, the more we can offset the damage caused by absorbing POP’s into our bodies.
One powerful antioxidant is glutathione, a peptide manufactured in all cells of the body for a range of vital functions, including the destruction of free radicals and toxins in the body.
Certain foods help our bodies manufacture more glutathione: peanuts, peanut butter, cruciferous vegetables (such as kale and broccoli), and foods rich in B vitamins (such as liver and lentils).
PQQ is a nutrient found in plant foods and is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is found in high concentrations in green peppers, parsley, green tea, papaya and kiwi fruit.
PQQ is known as the ‘energy creator antioxidant’ as it boosts the mitochondria in our cells, combats oxidation, improves brain function, and reduces oxidative stress on the heart.
Another powerful antioxidant, which is an integral part of the human energy-creation system in our mitochondria. It helps reduce oxidation, the creation of free-radicals as a byproduct of aerobic respiration, the body’s main generator of energy. This antioxidant is found in highest concentrations in the heart, liver, and kidneys.
The best food sources are heart and liver of beef and pork, and to a lesser extent red meat generally.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and founder of Fitness4London.com.