Antioxidants 101

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Why the fuss over Antioxidants?

We see the word “antioxidant” plastered all over our food labels, but very few of us know even know what antioxidants are or what they do in our bodies.

Let’s start with the fact that our bodies have billions and billions of cells that are responsible for making the important molecules that help us grow, and carry out tasks such as eating, digesting and thinking. Our cells face the threat of something called “free radicals,” which are bad chemicals that damage our cells.

So how does our body fight these harmful chemicals?

You got it-Antioxidants! Antioxidants help alleviate the damage of free radicals by allowing them to pass through our body with out altering the structure or function of our cells.

What would happen if there were no antioxidants?

Free radicals are a part of the cause of many diseases including heart disease, vision loss and cancer.  Antioxidants have not yet been proven to protect against the development of cancer, heart disease or other chronic diseases.  However, this does not mean that antioxidants are not needed, but that antioxidants are not the key to preventing diseases.

Where can I find antioxidants?

Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods such as:

  • Berries
  • Green tea
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate

When looking at nutrition fact labels, antioxidants can be identified as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.

The Bottom Line

 

Antioxidants are an important part of our diet, and the above list provides just some of the many sources of antioxidants.  Although antioxidants are helpful in keeping our cells healthy, they should not be used to prevent illness.

Written by Gillian Eckert

           

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