High-quality pet food ingredients provide the nutrients necessary for pets to live happy and healthy lives, but did you know that some pet food ingredients have bonus benefits? When used as part of a complete and balanced diet, these ingredients (called functional ingredients) can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Let’s take a look at one of those extra benefits: antioxidants.
What Are Antioxidants?
The term antioxidant is probably a familiar one, as it is commonly used in human health, but what exactly is an antioxidant? The answer to this question requires a quick lesson in Biochemistry 101, as it involves oxygen, missing electrons and unstable molecules called free radicals.
During normal metabolism, the body produces free radicals, unstable molecules that contain oxygen and have an uneven number of electrons (the negatively charged particles of an atom). This makes them reactive, and on a mission, to steal an electron from molecules that are essential for maintaining pet health. Stealing the electron damages the other molecule and starts a chain reaction of free radical production, as the damaged molecule can become a free radical too.
Antioxidants are the heroes, saving the day by controlling free radical production and protecting important molecules in the body. They do this using a number of methods, including neutralizing the free radicals by giving them an electron. Antioxidants are stable enough that they can spare an electron without becoming a free radical too.
However, if more free radicals are produced than there are antioxidants to control them, health issues, like cancer and heart disease, can occur. Some antioxidants are produced by the body, but it is also important that ingredients in your pet’s food contain antioxidant properties to help keep your pet healthy and free radicals under control.
Antioxidant Health Benefits
As part of a complete and balanced diet, antioxidants can help keep pets healthy by protecting them from the damaging effects of free radicals. Antioxidants help support the developing immune system of puppies and kittens and may help their immune system respond to vaccinations. The immune system of older pets can be aided by antioxidants, as senior pets have increased free radical production due to the aging process. Antioxidants can also make a healthy difference on the outside by supporting healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Pet Food Antioxidant Sources
Antioxidants can come from a number of different ingredients in your pet’s food. From ancient grains like chia seed and quinoa, which have a naturally high concentration of antioxidants, to superfoods such as blueberries, oranges, spinach and carrots, there are many natural sources of antioxidants available. See below for some examples of ingredients in Diamond pet food formulas that are a source of antioxidants to help support a healthy lifestyle for your pets.
If you ever wonder about an ingredient in a Diamond-brand dog or cat food and why it’s there, be sure to check out our ingredient glossary, send us an email or call our customer service team at 800-442-0402.
RELATED POST: Nutrients and Ingredients: Not Necessarily the Same