Understanding Antioxidants   



Understanding Antioxidants

 
Free radicals are, without doubt, one of the biggest causes of aging and other health, related issues. But with increased consumption of antioxidants, combating free radicals will become less gruelling and overall health can be restored.
Antioxidants are substances or nutrients that are found in certain foods, which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. Its main function is to neutralise free radicals in the body, said to be the cause of premature aging, heart disease, cancer, etc. Free radicals are highly reactive by products of chemical processes in the body, which produce harmful oxidation that can damage the integrity of cells and body tissues.

What Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are unstable molecules, which react easily with essential molecules of our body, including DNA, fat and proteins. They are formed as part of our natural metabolism and also by environmental factors, including smoking, pesticides, pollution, sunlight and radiation. When a free radical attacks a molecule, the molecule becomes a free radical itself, causing a chain reaction that can result in the destruction of a cell. They are, without question, one of the key players in the aging process and most health-related diseases.

Ailments commonly linked to free radicals include Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders. A Harvard Medical School research has also confirmed the connection between free radicals and macular degeneration; a type of eye condition that can lead to blindness.

“Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods that can essentially reduce, neutralise and, prevent the damage by free radicals.“

Aside from health reasons, free radicals can also cause premature aging, formation of wrinkles, thickening of the skin and other skin conditions. "Aging is a disease," says E.R. Stadtman, a researcher on aging at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "The human life span simply reflects the level of free radical oxidative damage that accumulates in cells. When damage accumulates, cells can't survive properly anymore and they just give up."

Fight It With Antioxidants
One of the most important breakthroughs in anti-aging and disease prevention in the last century is the discovery of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods that can essentially reduce, neutraIise and, prevent the damage by free radicals.

Antioxidants are found in certain foods and these include the nutrient antioxidants such as vitamins A,C and E, and minerals like copper, zinc and selenium.

Other dietary food compounds, such as the phytochemicals in plants and zoochemicals from animal products, are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than either vitamins or minerals.
These are called the non-nutrient antioxidants and include phytochemicals, such as lycopenes in tomatoes, and anthocyanins found in cranberries.

Antioxidants in Food
Antioxidants play a key role in improving overall health. Good sources of antioxidants include:

ALLIUM SULPHUR COMPOUNDS leek, onion and garlic ANTHOCYANINS eggplant, grapes and berries BETA-CAROTENE pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley CATECHINS red wine, tea COPPER seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts CRYPTOXANTHINS red capsicum, pumpkin, mangoes FLAVONOIDS tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red win e, onion, apple INDOLES cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower ISOFLAVONOIDS soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas, milk LIGNANS sesame seed, bran, whole grains, vegetables LUTEIN dark leafy greens like spinach, and corn LYCOPENE tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon MANGANESE seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts POLYPHENOLS thyme, oregano SELENIUM seafood, offal, lean meat, whole grains VITAMIN C oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum, strawberries VITAMIN E vegetable oils (such as wheat germ oil), avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains ZINC seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts ZOOCHEMICALS red meat, offal and fish, also derived from the plants, animals eat.
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Happy reading,
Evelyn


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