The Science Behind Antioxidants

Antioxidants

Photo courtesy of MarthStewart.comGreen tea gets touted as a wonderful source of antioxidants - and deservedly so.  So what are antioxidants?  Antioxidants are tiny compounds that help to grab up free-radicals that float around the body and do damage.  These free radicals are a natural by-product of many oxidation reactions that go on inside our bodies.  The problem often is that once they're formed and let loose, they "go rogue" on our other cells and do the kind of damage that causes aging and trigger.

Providing the body with phytonutrients (nutrients contained within the pigmentation of all those wonderful fruits and vegetables) and antioxidants help to slow down these processes at the cellular level.  Tea of all colors contain a large number of antioxidants with green teas and white teas topping the list.  They also provide a subset of antioxidants called catechins.  Catechins get little face time in the media (they're just not sexy enough) but are important because they help to increase our basal metabolic rate (translated to increase the number of calories your body burns at baseline) and are associated with weight management.  There is even some interesting research that points to their role in helping to regulate insulin metabolism.

The Bottom Line

All in all, incorporating green and white teas into your routine can and will help your bod to fight off oxidative stress and free radicals, decrease systemic inflammation, and rev up that metabolic baseline.  Antioxidants are a great buzzword to know when discussing nutrition but I wanted to help clarify the scientific picture behind these oft-talked about compounds.