November 01, 2013

Antioxidants

Reap the benefits from food sources

Antioxidants

Your grocery list includes oranges, apples, raspberries, kiwi and strawberries — ingredients for a tasty fruit salad. Beyond flavors, that's also a nice mix of fruits for a healthy and nutritional cocktail that packs an antioxidant punch.

Substances with antioxidant properties are found in a wide variety of foods, particularly in plant-based foods. Antioxidants — in the form of certain vitamins, minerals or plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that act like antioxidants — may prevent, delay or repair some types of cell damage.

Making the most of foods that bring together a variety of antioxidants not only contributes to a healthy diet but also may provide cellular level reinforcements that researchers are continuing to identify and chronicle.

By comparison, some high-dose antioxidant supplements — including beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E — have been associated with health risks, including an increased risk of overall mortality.

Radicals, stress and repair

Natural cell metabolism is a round-the-clock process. It occurs as you breathe, when you exercise and as your food is being converted to energy. But along with cell metabolism comes the formation of unstable byproducts, called free radicals. Free radicals also are encountered in the environment, such as from exposure to sunlight, air pollution and cigarette smoke.

The problem with free radicals is that many can trigger cell and tissue damage — and even damage to DNA and RNA that regulate your cell reproduction — through a process called oxidation. Cell damage or changes due to oxidative stress may play a part in...