Antioxidants are a big buzzword in today’s society, leading to an exponential increase in sales of green tea, dark chocolate and the Queen Garnet! But what are antioxidants and why do we need to have them?

First, let us break down the word ‘antioxidant’. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidation, hence the two parts of the word – ‘anti’ and ‘oxidant’. A simple antioxidant example is when you squeeze lemon juice onto fruits to stop them from browning. This browning results from oxidation and the lemon juice contains antioxidants to stop this process.

But what is oxidation and why can it can be harmful to your health? Oxidation involves an interaction between oxygen and molecules, a process that produces free radicals (you may have heard about these from skincare products). Free radicals are highly reactive, unstable compounds responsible for health issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, and inflammation.

To explain why these free radicals are unstable, it is important to know about the electrons in the atoms in our cells. If there are an odd number of electrons, an atom becomes very unstable. What antioxidants do is come along and donate one of their electrons to the free radical, effectively neutralising it. An odd number of electrons means one of them is unpaired, and electrons like to come in pairs. Think of an unpaired electron like a lonely, neglected person who takes these emotions out on others – they are ‘unstable’. As soon as another person comes along to be with them, they calm down and are not so quick to react. Antioxidants are very friendly – they have an electron to spare so they do not mind giving it up to help neutralise the free radical. Without antioxidants, free radicals react with other parts of the body such as DNA, fat, and proteins and impact their structure.

There are thousands of antioxidants, but some common ones are vitamins A, C (like in the lemon juice), and E. There are even natural antioxidants that our bodies synthesise themselves, though the ones provided by our diet are more well known. Minerals such as iron and magnesium are also needed in diets to assist enzymes in the antioxidant process. The anthocyanin in the Queen Garnet is its main type of antioxidant and gives the plum its deep purple colour (to find out more about anthocyanin, click here to go to our last blog article)

Antioxidants protect our heart, our eyes, our cells, and so much more. Making sure that you have sufficient high quality antioxidants in your diet such as that found in the Queen Garnet will help give your body the best chance to eliminate free radicals and keep you healthy!