What Are Antioxidants and Why Are They Good for Us?

mcherwood By mcherwood, 12th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

A lesson about free radicals which are harmful molecules that can attack us from inside or outside of our bodies. Knowledge of proper nutrition will aid in prevention of diseases brought on by the onslaught of free radicals.

What Are Antioxidants and Why Are They Good for Us?

We are all familiar with the way oxidation causes our car to rust, our fruits to turn brown and our oils to become rancid. This same oxidative process occurs inside our bodies, causing a breakdown of cells. Oxidation produces harmful molecules called free radicals which are chemically active atoms that have an excess or a decrease in the number of electrons in the atoms.

Free radicals can attack from inside or outside our bodies. DNA as well as healthy protein and fat cells can be damaged by free radicals. A chain of events occurs which results in a weakening of our immune system as well as a speeding up the aging process. Within the body, normal respiration, metabolism and inflammation will produce free radicals. Outside the body, pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, X-rays, smoking and alcohol cause free radicals to develop.

Fortunately, substances known as antioxidants are able to counteract the damaging effects of oxidation in animal tissue. Simply put, they act as scavengers. They serve to reduce the effect of dangerous oxidants by binding together with these harmful molecules, thus decreasing their destructive power. Antioxidants can also help to repair damage that has already occurred in cells.

Antioxidants are found in the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) we ingest as well as the enzymes, mainly proteins, that are already present in our body. They have been found to play a significant role in preventing the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts.

The most commonly known antioxidants are Vitamin A and Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium.

Vitamin A and Carotene are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots. The brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A and Carotene.

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes, as well as green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes

Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil.

Selenium is found in fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.

A recent study has revealed amazing health benefits from eating asparagus, particularly for the prevention of cancer. Asparagus contains glutathione and folate, both of which protect against cancer. While folic acid is the same as folate, folic acid is the supplemental form. Eating healthy whole foods when available promotes health benefits to a greater extent than using supplemental vitamins and minerals.

We can all be proactive in guarding our health through education and follow-through with proper nutrition. Choosing the right foods for ourselves and our family is a step in the right direction.




Antioxidants, Dna, Free Radicals, Oxidation, Vitamins

Meet the author

author avatar mcherwood
I am a retired teacher/ administrator for the Buffalo School System. I hold a Ph.D. in Educational Administration.
I write book reviews, film reviews plus a large variety of topics.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
12th Jul 2013 (#)

I am sure people would find also that organic foods, and fresh foods from their garden, are loaded with antioxidants.

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author avatar philpalm
12th Jul 2013 (#)

Smoking is a bad habit because it destroys vitamin C. Vitamin C is like the glue to keep cells together and if a person gets a transplant a smoker will undo the process of seating in a transplant.

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author avatar Yasmin.k
13th Jul 2013 (#)

It's informative and helpful to keep us healthy.

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