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Zaktualizowano: 18 maj 2021

What are they and why are they so important?

As the word itself says, they are agents which prevent the oxidation process caused by different situations. Just to give an example, some metals staying a long time in contact with air, it gets darker, oxidated.

Of course, when we talk about our health we have other examples, but the logic is the same.

When we leave some food open, it changes the colour, the flavour and, if you realize too late, food is to throw away.

Exactly the same thing happens to our body. There are some oxidation processes in our body that can bring us some problems. The oxidation process in our body causes the increase of the radicals, not healthy for our body. They are mostly known by the name of free radicals.

When they are under control, they are important for our health. But, if they increase too much and get in contact with some other molecules, they damage them causing problems and diseases in our body. Cancer is an example. Probably the worst. Radicals can bring also our skin to get too old too fast, or some other problems, which can be more or less serious.

That is THE good reason we have to pay attention to what we eat and how we cook it.

Food can give us a good amount of antioxidants, allowing our body to fight against radicals.

Antioxidants we find in food, are helping our body to block the oxidation of those fats, which can be dangerous for our health. In other words, they prevent our cells from getting ruined and damaged, sometimes permanently, causing the destruction of our DNA, bringing cancers.

So, as you can see, antioxidants are important for our body as well as vitamins.

Which are these helping elements and where can we find them?

The most known are the famous vitamins: A, C, E. But not only. They are really helpful, also for other things, like preventing from cold, flu (like vitamin C), or preparing our skin to get tanned. This is the case of the one from carotene: vitamin A and β-carotene. Vitamin E helps us to block the oxidation of the so-called “bad fats”, guilty to accelerate the oxidation process.

And now, where to find them?

This is the easiest and funniest thing: we can find them in our daily food!

Vitamin A: fruits, vegetables are rich in it. Especially the orange and red ones.

Vitamin C: cabbage, citruses, kiwis, tomatoes, peppers, cherries, malt. Generally, fruit and vegetables are rich in it. This is a vitamin that, thanks to its antioxidant properties, can keep other vitamins stable, allowing our organism to absorb them. This is also the reason why it is used in the food industry.

Vitamin E: cereals, nuts, seeds, almonds, olives and pure extra virgin olive oil

Polyphenols: natural antioxidants which block the radicals, allowing our body to be healthy. Excellent to help to prevent cancer, cardiovascular and diseases, typical of elder people. Sources: green and black tea, coffee, citruses, cocoa, berries, in purple fruits and vegetables, like grapes, purple carrots, purple potatoes and, of course, in olives and in pure extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is probably the richest source to get polyphenols, the reason why it is used to preserve food. Polyphenols are mostly absorbed by the stomach, intestine and liver, protecting them from harmful toxins.

Now that we saw where to find them, let's talk about cooking and preserving food.

If we want to preserve all the properties of food, we have to pay attention to what we use to cook and how.

The best way to get vitamins and antioxidants is of course eating fruit, some nuts, raw vegetables, possibly with extra virgin olive oil and not mayonnaise.

When we cook, the best choice is NOT to fry, otherwise, we lose most of the beneficial properties of food. Choose extra virgin olive oil to cook and bake, that thanks to its high quantity of polyphenols and vitamin C and E, which block the oxidation process caused by heating and keep other vitamins stable, assures you a healthy meal.

If you have to fry, prefer using peanut oil or pure extra virgin olive oil.

How to preserve food from the oxidation process?

Always cover food, prefer beeswax wraps or cling foil to aluminium foil because the aluminium when in direct contact with certain food, like butter, eggs, creams can easily generate oxidation. The same happens when you store those foods in metal boxes.

Extra virgin olive oil is safe enough when in contact with metal thanks to its natural antioxidants.

When you open a jar of dry tomatoes, olive pate or spreadable sauces and creams, make sure you press them well in the jar and cover them with extra virgin olive oil and store them in the refrigerator for maximum a week.

Try yourself to pay attention: cut an apple, leave a half in the air and cover the other half with cling foil to see what happens.

Remember that the best medicine is NOT a medicine, is a healthy life style and a healthy cooking!

And a healthy cooking is a genuine way to enjoy food and life!

Keep following us with our online classes and on social networks

Chiara Gregoraci

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