Oxygen is our life force, keeping our bodies running. But nothing in life is ever free, is it? In return for giving us the power to run, jump and play, oxygen produces by-products called free radicals, which damage and wreak havoc on our cells. These nuisances cause many illnesses, but our bodies aren’t powerless against them.

Our bodies use these wonderful things called antioxidants to fight back and prevent damage from the free radicals from happening in the first place. How do we access this natural weapon? Our bodies make antioxidants on their own, however, our diet can help boost our protection.

Here are seven basics about this natural super power.

1. The term “antioxidant” is actually a category, and some things that fall under this category are vitamin A, C, and E, selenium, lutein, lycopene, flavonoids, and lignin.

2. Antioxidants help lower our risk of infection and cancer by enhancing our immune defense.

3. Breaking down food, which is an oxy-process, isn’t the only place free radicals come from. They also come from exposure to radiation and other harmful substances. Avoid things like smoking and sunburns to minimize “oxidative stress.”

4. Getting your antioxidants from food is preferred over supplements. You can find antioxidants in colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meat, poultry, and fish.

5. Steaming your vegetables rather than boiling, helps retain more antioxidants. In fact, boiling your vegetables can cause them to lose up to 90% of their antioxidants.

6. Not only are antioxidants good for cell repair, but also they are used as additives to foods to help slow 

deterioration, as well as I non-food products to prevent rancidity. Some of these things include certain lipsticks and moisturizers.

7. Now to the best part. Not only are fruits and veggies rich in antioxidants, but so is chocolate. Cacao beans, what all chocolate is made from, is loaded with antioxidants. This means that chocolate, which contains high cocoa content, can have as much antioxidant value as red wine. Check the labels on chocolate products that you purchase. Products that read “processed with alkali” or “Dutch chocolate,” should be avoided, as these destroy the antioxidants in chocolate.