Fashionable people everywhere consume Starbucks iced green tea like it’s air and slather themselves in pomegranate creams, because antioxidants are touted as miracle cures that help prevent aging skin and much more serious health issues like cancer. But according to a new study, most people have no idea what the hell an antioxidant is; they just know antioxidants are supposed to be good for them.
According to a new survey from MonaVie, 92 percent of adult responders could not explain what an antioxidant is, while 91 percent couldn’t identify what foods are good sources of them, even though 75 percent of responders said they were actively trying to eat food with lots of antioxidants. And antioxidants are still sought after for health and beauty purposes. According to The Daily Meal, the sale of products that claimed to have antioxidants reached $64.8 billion in 2011, and analysts expect the antioxidant-enriched goods market to hit $86 billion by 2016.
But with everyone spending money to eat and apply antioxidants, even though they couldn’t pick one out of a line up, what exactly is an antioxidant?
According to The Daily Meal’s Jessica Chou:
They’re technically a group of molecules that give electrons (remember biology?) to “free radicals,” or chemical byproducts from turning food into energy. Free radicals can damage cells as they steal electrons from other vital molecules in your system. Harvard notes that these free radicals can alter molecule’s structure or function, changing instructions in a strand of DNA or cause cholesterol molecules to get trapped in an artery wall.
When antioxidants give these electrons to free radicals, they essentially neutralize the molecules; thus past research has linked a diet high in antioxidants to a decrease in chronic diseases like cancer or vision loss.
Antioxidant supplements are available at vitamin shops, but recent research implies that supplements may not be as effective as natural, food-based sources of antioxidants like tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates.
Via The Daily Meal/Photo: Shutterstock