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What Are the Different Types of Antioxidants?

Last Updated on: September 1, 2021

foods on a table that are rich in antioxidants

There are thousands of different types of antioxidants. But how does each type differ? And which is the most powerful?

There are many different types of antioxidants. Each serves a specific function and is not interchangeable with other antioxidants. Essential for helping prevent cell damage, antioxidants can either be natural or man-made (1). But why are antioxidants important? And how are they categorized?

Why Are Antioxidants Important?

Antioxidants are compounds that work in redox (reduction–oxidation) couples to neutralize free radicals, in turn helping to keep your cells healthy and maintaining good cell DNA health (2). Antioxidants are essential for helping rid our bodies of harmful free radicals. Free radicals come in a myriad of chemical configurations and are small enough to get into our DNA, scavenging and damaging our cells in their search for an electron to pair with.

Free radicals can change our essential DNA instructions, alter the cell membrane and change what it allows to leave and enter, and trap the bad cholesterol molecule (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) in our artery walls. High levels of free radicals can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, which are the leading cause of many diseases, such as (3)(4):

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Accelerated aging
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease

There are thousands of different types of antioxidants, each placed into specific categories (5).

How Are Antioxidants Categorized?

Antioxidants are placed into two categories: Enzymatic and nonenzymatic. On the one hand, enzymatic antioxidants work by breaking down and removing free radicals. On the other hand, nonenzymatic antioxidants work by interrupting free-radical chain reactions. The subcategories within these two categories are as follows:

Graph showing the different types of antioxidants
Graph showing the different types of antioxidants.

Different Types of Antioxidants

Let’s take a deeper look at some different types of antioxidants:

Anthocyanins

What?
Anthocyanin antioxidants are under the class of molecules known as flavonoids. These types of antioxidants are responsible for the red, purple, and blue pigments found in certain foods (6).

Benefits:
Anthocyanin antioxidants are known to help with liver dysfunction, diarrhea, and even vision disorders. They also help boost your immune system, regulate your hormones, decrease inflammation, and strengthen your cell membranes and capillary permeability.

Found in:

  • Berries
  • Aubergines (eggplant)
  • Red cabbage
  • Black rice
  • Black soybeans
  • Raspberries
  • Teas

Catechins

What?
Catechins are a type of natural antioxidant that falls under the category of flavonoids. These types of antioxidants are frequently used in traditional herbal remedies (8).

Benefits:
Catechins have been known to help prevent cell death; this is because they are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, enter into the central nervous system, and help regulate gene and protein expression in the neurons. This means that catechins are able to help lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, protect the cells from damage, and in turn help protect the body from a wide range of diseases. (8)

Found in:

  • Green tea
  • Berries
  • Cocoa
  • Pome fruits (apples, kiwi, strawberries)
  • Prune juice
  • Peaches
  • Vinegar
  • Barley grain

Coenzyme Q10

What?
The cells use coenzyme Q10 for cell growth and maintenance. This type of antioxidant is used to help generate cell energy in the form of ATP (9)(10). This type of energy is especially important when it comes to keeping your heart, liver, and kidneys running properly.

Benefits:
Coenzyme Q10 is important for lowering inflammation, keeping your gums healthy, boosting your heart health, helping prevent migraines, and keeping your kidneys healthy.

Found in:

  • Oily fish (salmon tuna)
  • Meats (liver, pork, beef, chicken)
  • Vegetables (spinach and broccoli)
  • Fruit (strawberries)
  • Legumes (lentils)
  • Whole grains

Coumaric acid

What?
Coumaric acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid that exists in all living organisms (11).

Benefits:
Coumaric acid helps lower inflammation, regulate hormones, strengthen the skeletal system, protect your neurons, and increase brain efficiency (12) (13).

Found in:

  • Olives
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Barley grain
  • Vinegar
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Navy beans

Flavonoids

What?
Flavonoids are plant compounds that are found in brightly colored plants (14)(15).

Benefits:
Flavonoids carry a large number of health benefits. These benefits include helping to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, strengthening the immune system, regulating blood pressure, and helping with cell health and energy production.

Found in:

  • Kale
  • Dark chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Red cabbage
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Tea
  • Apples
  • Red peppers
  • Lemons

Phenols

What?
Phenols are any compound within the hydroxyl group. These compounds are produced by plants and microorganisms (16).

Benefits:
Phenols are great antioxidants that stop harmful free radicals from reacting with the molecules in your body, helping to protect your DNA and your cells (17).

Found in:

  • Cloves
  • Thyme
  • Vanilla
  • Milk
  • Oranges
  • Cocoa
  • Red grapes
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Peanuts

Phytoestrogens

What?
Phytoestrogens occur naturally in plants and function similar to estrogen in our bodies (18).

Benefits:
Phytoestrogens are important for helping the body to regulate hormones. These types of antioxidants are able to help with hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis.

Found in:

  • Veggies
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Soy
  • Tea
  • Licorice root
  • Carrots

Quercetin

What?
Quercetin is a type of flavonoid responsible for plant pigment. Some use this type of antioxidant for medicinal purposes (19).

Benefits:
Quercetin helps with arthritis, bladder infections, and allergies. Quercetin also helps to protect the body against damage from oxidants (heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s).

Found in:

  • Onions
  • Green tea
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • St. John’s wort
  • American elder

Selenium

What?
Selenium is a natural mineral found in soil, water, and some types of food (20).

Benefits:
Selenium is essential for maintaining a good metabolism, helping protect your cells, and helping with asthma, dandruff, and cancer.

Found in:

  • Grains
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Nuts

Vitamin C

What?
Vitamin C is one of the safest, most effective vitamins (21).

Benefits:
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, boosting the immune system, improving skin quality, and helping fight heart disease and eye issues. It also boosts prenatal health.

Found in:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe

Vitamin E

What?
Vitamin E exists in eight different chemical forms. Each different chemical form has a different level of biological activity (22).

Benefits:
Vitamin E is essential for maintaining a good nervous system, preventing cell damage, facilitating organ function, and lowering the risk of dementia, heart disease, and cancer.

Found in:

  • Palm oil
  • Fish oil
  • Meat
  • Eggs

Zinc

What?
Zinc is one of the most abundant trace minerals found in our body. As an essential nutrient, zinc is found in almost every cell. However, our bodies cannot naturally produce zinc. Because of this, we need to get zinc from our diets (23).

Benefits:
Zinc is essential for maintaining proper skin health, good digestion, for wound healing, helping our bodies grow and develop, and boosting the immune system. It also plays an important role in gene expression, protein and DNA synthesis, and enzymatic reactions.

Found in:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Shellfish

Hydrogen: The Superior Selective Antioxidant

Hydrogen is a powerful selective antioxidant that has been proven through over 1,000 studies to have positive health effects, such as:

  • Aiding in good gut health
  • Helping boost your immune system
  • Improving mental clarity and cognitive function
  • Reducing inflammation in the body

What Makes a Selective Antioxidant Different?

The hydroxyl radical is one of the most harmful and most reactive free radicals (24). The hydroxyl radical indiscriminately damages lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acid, leading to cell injury (necrosis) and death (apoptosis). It is estimated that 60% – 70% of ionizing radiation-induced cellular damage is caused by the hydroxyl radical. This includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hemodialysis. While regular antioxidants that we get from our food can neutralize and detoxify other forms of free radicals, they cannot do so with the hydroxyl radical.

This is where hydrogen comes in: molecular hydrogen (H2) is able to selectively target the harmful hydroxyl radical, effectively neutralizing it. H2 is a highly effective, non-toxic method to neutralize harmful free radicals. Because of its low molecular size and weight, H2 is able to rapidly diffuse through our tissues much easier than other forms of antioxidants. H2, then, is the most efficient and effective type of antioxidant.

Graph showing the difference between selective and non-selective antioxidants
Graph showing the difference between selective and non-selective antioxidants.

What Does Molecular Hydrogen Do for Your Body?

Hydrogen is the third most abundant element in our bodies. Hydrogen plays a key role in your cells’ metabolism, which helps you feel energetic. When your cells’ metabolism is not functioning efficiently, you experience inflammation and lactic acid buildup. Hydrogen gas is also essential for efficiently eliminating waste, conserving energy, and reducing harmful free radicals that damage your cells. This is because hydrogen functions as a selective antioxidant (25).

Another major reason why molecular hydrogen is needed starts with the gut. When we eat food, especially fiber-rich foods, if we have good gut bacteria like aerobic microflora, those good bacteria eat the food and release hydrogen gas. So essentially, the gut is your own hydrogen generator. This hydrogen is responsible for:

  • Regulating oxidation in the body
  • Acting as a signal modulator, which means it gives direction to the systems that control what is supposed to happen in the body
  • Stimulating gastric ghrelin, a hormone that is essential for weight loss, preventing fat storage, regulating the brain, and helping fight neurological issues like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

One way that you can receive the benefits of this powerful antioxidant is by drinking Echo Antioxidant Water™.

Woman at home in her kitchen pouring antioxidant water into her glass
Echo Antioxidant Water™ is water that has been infused with molecular hydrogen.

What Is Echo Antioxidant Water™?

Echo Antioxidant Water™ is water that has been infused with free-flowing hydrogen gas. Echo Antioxidant Water™ can enhance the benefits of regular water and improve overall health. Hydrogen-infused water has been shown to:

  1. Improve your immune system
  2. Prevent the increase of blood lactate in high-intensity workouts
  3. Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
  4. Boost gut health
  5. Reduce allergies
  6. Help with certain behavior and mood disorders
  7. Prevent certain types of hearing loss
  8. Help with weight loss
  9. Fight aging
  10. And more

For more information on the benefits of Echo Antioxidant Water™, visit this page.

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