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Antioxidants In Foods - Which Foods

Apr 8, 2008
Discussions about the health benefits associated with antioxidants in foods have become increasingly common among medical experts and laymen alike. Antioxidants have been said to have a very important role in preventing heart disease. They have also been said to fight against the slow degeneration of the eyes and brain that accompany aging. Experts have even said that antioxidants can retard or even reverse the process of aging itself.

Medical practitioners point to free radicals as the major culprits in disease and aging processes. Free radicals are unstable chemical materials that appear to have a part in the development of disease and body breakdowns. The creation of free radicals is a normal part of life, and they result directly from oxidation. When humans breathe, the body undergoes the oxidation process, which releases free radicals into the cells. Typically, the natural defense mechanisms of the body neutralize free radicals and render them harmless.

In the modern world, however, environment conditions and elements such as UV-radiation, pollution, and alcohol can overwhelm the ability of the body to neutralize the free radicals naturally. They can then damage the function and structure of the cells in the body. Researchers have noted that the accumulation of free radicals in the body contributes to aging and illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

By consuming foods rich in antioxidants, individuals can help their bodies handle free radicals. Scientists have estimated that over 4,000 chemical compounds exist in antioxidant food sources that may have the same function as antioxidants. The food sources most commonly studied for their antioxidant properties are also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Most people take supplements to obtain antioxidants, but studies have shown that supplements may not provide the optimal measure of the free-radical neutralization.

Physicians recommend that individuals receive their antioxidants by consuming foods that contain them rather than by taking supplements. Both the fresh and frozen fruit and vegetable sections of the local supermarket is the best place to find food sources that are rich in antioxidants, along with the area that offers whole grains. Most antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables. For example, vitamin C is most often found in citrus fruits, broccoli, grapes, raw cabbage, peppers, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, and potatoes. And vitamin E is found in food sources such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, wheat germ, vegetable oil, fish-liver oil, and green leafy vegetables.
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