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What are Antioxidants and Why Do We Need Them?

by Clare Deville (follow)
Editor in Chief of www.healthyhints.com.au
Nutrition (269)     
Antioxidants are scavengers, but in the best possible way. They scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals. Known to attack healthy cells, damage cell membranes, interfere with DNA and potentially cause cell death, free radicals have been implicated as a contributing factor in over fifty diseases.



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Helpful scavengers


Free radicals are rogue molecules created through oxidation, a chemical reaction involving oxygen - oxygen is a highly reactive molecule, and ironically the same oxygen that sustains us, can contribute to our death. Our cells use oxygen in various metabolic reactions and sometimes the oxygen reacts with other compounds to create free radicals, which are also highly unstable, and dangerous in excess; free radicals can build to the point of causing what's known as oxidative stress, which in turn initiates multiple pathways of destruction in the body.

Oxidative stress in the body can be increased by eating the wrong types of foods, particularly fatty fried foods (or oils cooked at very high temperatures), highly processed foods, high glycemic foods and excessive meat protein. Preservatives and pesticides in our foods can also contribute.



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Lay off the fried and deep fried foods


Antioxidants act to inhibit or neutralise oxidation in the body; they can stabilise or deactivate free radicals before they do damage within the body. They do this by oxidising themselves.

In addition to normal bodily reactions, free radicals are generated by environmental factors including tobacco smoke, air pollution and ultraviolet radiation.

You can protect yourself against free radical damage by consuming natural antioxidants in your diet. The efficacy of supplementation is debatable so your safest way of ensuring adequate antioxidant protection is to eat a well balanced diet that includes a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. Of the micronutrients, the most powerful antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.



what are antioxidants, antioxidants, what do antioxidants do, fruit and antioxidants, food for antioxidants


Antioxidants have the power to fight excess free radicals, thereby repairing and limiting the damage they can do within the body; it is well worth consciously increasing your dietary uptake of these little lifesavers.

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