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Why do we need antioxidants in our diet?

Antioxidants are molecules that are found in some foods and beverages, which help protect our health. Edenvale alcohol-removed wines are a good source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants: why do we need them?

At Edenvale, we often mention that our wines are high in antioxidants. While you might know that antioxidants are molecules that play a key role in our health and wellness, the specifics around them can be confusing.

Health articles are often complex, so here we breakdown what antioxidants are, why we need them and how we can get more into our diets.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that work to protect the cells in our body from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Which brings us to another question – what are free radicals? Free radicals are cells that hold an uneven number of electrons, allowing them to easily react with other molecules to form compounds. Exposure to toxins increases the production of free radicals in our bodies.

There are many environmental stressors that contribute to the creation of excess free radicals in the body, including:

  • air pollution
  • cigarette smoke
  • alcohol intake
  • high blood sugar levels.

Free radicals have a key role to play in our immune system, helping to kill unwanted bacteria. However, when the body holds too many free radicals, our health can be affected.

Over time, high levels of free radicals can break down healthy cells. This can cause premature ageing, heart and brain disease, and diabetes. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants in the body, it creates a condition called oxidative stress.

Antioxidants are the antidote to free radicals; giving one of their electrons to the free radicals’ unstable molecules to restore their neutrality.

While these important compounds are found in many forms, no one form of antioxidant can fight every free radical. The most recognisable forms of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A.

Why do we need antioxidants in our diet?

Fortunately, our bodies hold natural abilities to fight free radicals, generating our own antioxidants. However, it’s still important to supplement these with a healthy, antioxidant-rich diet.

There is increasing evidence that antioxidants are best consumed within a well-balanced diet rather than vitamin supplements. The compounds of vitamins and antioxidants in food work in synergy, whereas using supplements often results in an overconsumption of a specific nutrient.

Where can we find antioxidants?

Fruit and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants in your diet.

Fruits that are high in antioxidants include:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • cranberries
  • apples
  • oranges
  • red grapes.

There are also many vegetables that contain high levels of antioxidants, including:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • pumpkin
  • artichokes
  • red cabbage
  • beetroot.

Green tea has also become a popular source due to its high levels of antioxidants, however black tea and coffee are also strong sources of antioxidants in the average diet.

In fact, researcher have found that coffee is likely to be the highest source of antioxidants in the western diet. However, this can be more of a reflection of our diet rather than an abundance of antioxidants in coffee.

Other antioxidant-rich foods to incorporate into your diet are:

  • beans
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • lean protein.

And good news – dark chocolate is also a great source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants in wine

Now that we understand what antioxidants are – how does it apply to wine?

Antioxidants exist in wine, as they do in most plant-derived foods and beverages. Red wines are known for being high in antioxidants, because the contact time on red grape skins results in high levels of polyphenols in the finished product.

Polyphenols are good for heart health, as they protect the lining of the blood vessels in the heart.

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as other red wine varietals, are known for having high concentrations of polyphenols due to their long contact time on skins during the winemaking process.

The specific amount of polyphenols in any given bottle of wine varies greatly depending on the winemaking process, the region in which the grapes were grown and even when the grapes were picked.

The antioxidant benefits of Edenvale

Edenvale wines are made using traditional winemaking methods, with the alcohol removed using spinning-cone technology after the fermentation process.

This process only removes the alcohol from the wine, leaving all the varietal flavours and aromas intact and the antioxidants untouched.

The resulting wines include at least the same number of polyphenols as their alcoholic counterparts and research suggests that this number could in fact be higher.

The higher concentration of antioxidants could be a result of the increased concentration of the wine after the alcohol is removed. Research also suggests that antioxidants last longer in blood plasma without the presence of alcohol.

When shopping for Edenvale wines on our website, you can find the ORAC score listed for each of our wines. The ORAC score is a method developed by scientists at the National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH) to measure the antioxidant capacity of different foods, quantifying the amount of antioxidants that are present in our wines.

You can pick up your favourite varietal now from our website at edenvale.com.au. Edenvale Beverages are also available from your local Dan Murphy’s, Woolworths, Coles, IGA, BWS or Foodworks.

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