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Demystifying Antioxidants

Health and wellness product manufacturers throw around a lot of buzzwords that can be mystifying, and often times it’s usually part of a marketing strategy to help the product gain notoriety. Some words can add merit to the product, but others are simply replacements for boring or otherwise arcane medical terminology.

One of these buzzwords that we’ve all heard is the term “antioxidant,” typically used when describing grape juice, green tea and a host of fruits and vegetables. But what exactly is an antioxidant and how does it work?


What is an Antioxidant? 

An antioxidant simply put is a compound that inhibits oxidation. We’re all familiar with the copper pipes we have in our homes. Ever notice that greenish, sometimes powdery substance around the joints, elbows and valves? That’s oxidation, which is a chemical reaction at the molecular level between water, air and copper. In fact, the Statute of Liberty, made of copper, was once a reddish-brown color until acid rain and salt corrosion caused it to turn the greenish color with which we’ve all come to know.

So, in the simplest terms, oxidation is a chemical reaction between two or more substances. In the human body, chemical reactions that take place between substances create what is known as “free radicals” or chain reactions that can damage our cells.


What is a Free Radical? 

The easiest way to explain a free radical is by understanding the concept of homeostasis, which is best described as nature’s tendency to maintain an equilibrium between elements. For example, an atom that has a deficiency of electrons will seek out and “steal” electrons from other substances in an effort to reach an equilibrium between its own neutrons and protons. This type of atom is known as a free radical.

In the body, these atoms that have an unbalanced number of electrons cause a process known as “oxidative stress” which can damage the body’s cells and lead to a wide range of diseases. So, you can see why foods and nutraceuticals that contain antioxidants are very desirable.


What Foods are High in Antioxidants?

 Probably the most widely known antioxidant is vitamin C. Other vitamins such as A and E are also excellent antioxidants. Of course, there are many people that prefer not to take vitamins in pill form and would rather eat foods that are high in antioxidants. For example, matcha tea has recently become a popular beverage due to its extremely high level of antioxidants known as catechins

Matcha tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant and owes its nutrient profile to the way it is harvested. By covering the tea leaves 20 to 30 days before harvest, farmers are able to increase the plant’s chlorophyll production and boost its amino acid content (theanine) which gives the plant a distinctive dark-green color. 

Once harvested, the stems and veins are removed and the remaining leaf material is then ground into a fine powder. Since the entire leaf is used, matcha tea has a much higher amount of catechins. Believe it or not, one cup of matcha tea equals the nutritional content of 30 cups of regular tea! In fact, one study has the amount of catechins in matcha at 137 times higher than green tea! 

There are many health benefits of matcha tea, some of which include increased cognition, immune system support, weight loss, lower cholesterol, sustained energy and reduced stress. And matcha tea does not always have to be consumed as a beverage. There is a wide range of delicious recipes that infuse the antioxidant power of matcha. They include ice creams, smoothies and culinary delights such as puddings, lattes, muffins, yogurts, cakes and even chocolate matcha butter cups!



Where Can I Get Matcha Tea?

VitasupportMD, the leader in bioflavonoids, imports their culinary grade matcha tea from the fertile lands of Japan. M Formula from VitasupportMD, is USDA organic and rich in antioxidant power. What’s more, M Formula is gluten-free, paleo-friendly and available in three different quantities that can be shipped directly to your doorstep.