Why you should care about antioxidants

Ocha Matcha UK | Matcha antioxidant comparison

What is an 'antioxidant’?

Antioxidants are chemicals which can prevent or slow cell damage by removing potentially damaging oxidising agents such as ‘free radicals’ (more on those later).

Antioxidants can be both naturally occurring (i.e. those found most commonly in fruit, vegetables and matcha tea) as well produced artificially and made into supplements

There are a wide range of antioxidants which provide benefits to different parts of the body. For example, beta-carotene (and other carotenoids) is very beneficial to eye health; lycopene is beneficial for helping maintain prostate health; flavonoids are especially beneficial for heart health; and proanthocyanidins are beneficial for urinary tract health.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are atoms which have been damaged by oxygen and are ‘broken’ (contain unpaired electrons). They then tend to latch on to other cells in a bid to stabilise the atom and find electrons, which causes these cells to also break. When these cells contain DNA the exposure to oxygen and the free radicals can affect the cell structure which is linked to degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

How can antioxidants fight free radicals?

Antioxidants are one of the first lines of defense that the body employs to keep free radicals in check and prevent them from causing a domino effect of damage on other cells. Antioxidant compounds can help to stabilise free radicals so they don’t impact on nearby cells as well as helping to repair cell damage.

The human body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. However, in most cases, free radicals far outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants and in today’s polluted world the body can struggle to keep up! In order to maintain the balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants.

Skin, in particular, is at risk of attack from many free radicals due to exposure to ultraviolet light. Oxygen damage is considered one of the primary contributors to sunburn, premature aging and skin cancers. A combinations of antioxidants e.g. astaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin E, is one of the most powerful ways of helping protect the skin.

Antioxidants and green tea

Green tea is packed with antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins. Matcha powder is the most concentrated and pure form of drinking this goodness, although you need to be careful that the matcha powder or matcha tea you choose is 100% matcha and 100% organic so that no nasties have been added.

Not only can you drink matcha tea but you can also use the matcha powder as a base for face masks or scrubs to get the antioxidants directly onto the skin. (You can read more here on our beauty blog how to make a facemask.) 

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