You may have heard about antioxidants on social media or TV and heard that they are beneficial to health, but have you ever wondered what an antioxidant is. Antioxidants are compounds that can donate an electron or a proton to stabilize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and DNA if they are not neutralized. An excess of free radicals can cause an imbalance in the body known as oxidative stress.
In turn, oxidative stress is related to the onset and complication of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc. Currently, many studies indicate that consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent these types of diseases, which are the main cause of death among Mexicans.
There is a tendency to consume foods that, in addition to nourishing us, have antioxidants and provide a health benefit. Some of the most common antioxidants in foods are polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamins, fiber, and bioactive peptides, among others.
This is why products such as agave honey, blackberries, blueberries, blueberries, and olive oil are currently in high demand in the market, as they have a high content of these molecules. However, these foods can be expensive and, unfortunately, not all Mexicans have access to them.
The good news is that the Mexican diet is full of ingredients and foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and other beneficial compounds, although this often goes unnoticed. Some of the foods regularly consumed by Mexicans with high antioxidant content are cactus, beans, pitaya, purslane, chia seeds, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, and corn.
Among the beneficial properties that these foods can have on human health is the prevention of heart disease, and cancer cell proliferation, in addition to being anti-inflammatory and can also help prevent the onset of complications of diabetes.
In the following table, we mention some of the ingredients and foods most commonly consumed by Mexicans and the beneficial health properties that have been reported in scientific studies.
It is important to mention that to take full advantage of the beneficial effects of these foods it is necessary to consume them regularly, exercise (at least 30 minutes daily) and avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
Compounds present are ascorbic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids, fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants (phenols, flavonoids, betaxanthin, and betacyanin), polyunsaturated fatty acids. Antidiabetic properties, against obesity, antioxidant, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, protect against diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.
Compounds present are protein, iron, soluble fiber, flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids, lignans, and iridoids. Antioxidant properties prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.
Compounds present are soluble fiber, carotenoids, polysaccharides, citric acid, lactic acid, betalain, proline, potassium, magnesium, calcium, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids. Antioxidant properties lower cholesterol levels, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, help against hypertension, has anti-bacterial properties.
Compounds present include linoleic, palmitic, oleic, oleic, stearic, aconitic, fumaric, citric, malic, and octalic acids, and apigenin. Antioxidant properties, antiviral, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, anti-inflammatory, and help against pain.
Compounds present include kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic and chlorogenic acid, rosmarinic, salicylic, myricetin, quercetin. Antioxidant properties have the potential to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory compounds.
Compounds present include oleic, coumaric, palmitic, linoleic, triacylglycerol, phospholipids, sterols, tocopherol, and resveratrol. Antioxidant properties protect against heart disease, are anti-inflammatory, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, may help against diabetes, and prevents diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.
Compounds present include Vitamin C, Lycopene, B-carotene, Lutein, and Flavonoids. Properties prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, have the potential to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease.
Compounds present include tannins, glycosides, sterols, triterpene alkaloids, and flavonoids. Antioxidant properties prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and have antimicrobial properties.
Compounds present include phytosterols, tocopherols, tocotrienols, phenolic acids, and carotenoids. Antioxidant properties have the potential to lower blood sugar levels, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, and may lower hypertension.
Compounds present include protein, fiber, tocopherol, and polyphenols. Antioxidant properties have the potential to lower blood sugar levels, prevent heart disease, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, are anti-inflammatory, and may prevent ulcers.
Finally, in addition to exerting antioxidant activity, many of these compounds found in Mexican foods can strengthen the immune system and protect us from diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. This implicitly generates coadjuvant actions to protect consumers' health.
Polyphenols. Compounds that are produced in the secondary metabolism of plants serve to protect them from adverse weather conditions and predators. They are found in fruits and vegetables and their consumption helps prevent various diseases.
Carotenoids. They are compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables such as mango and yellow and red peppers. They are natural antioxidants and their consumption is associated with disease prevention.
Fiber. These are compounds found in plants that help give a feeling of fullness, control weight, and prevent constipation and colon cancer.
Bioactive peptides. These are protein fragments that are antioxidants and may help lower hypertension.
By Erick P. Gutiérrez-Grijalva, Luis Aurelio Montoya-Inzunza, J. Basilio Heredia, Source: CIAD