All You Need To Know: Antioxidants
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Fruits and Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. Do you even know what antioxidants are? Here is what you need to know for your health and why.
Normal metabolism of everyone living being produces oxidant by-products that scientific studies suggest are responsible for aging and age related diseases. This is a concept known as oxidative stress. These by-products cause extensive damage to DNA, protein, and lipids which resemble damage done by radiation; this damage is a prime contributor to aging and to degenerative diseases of aging such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune-system decline, brain dysfunction, and cataracts.
So what does that have to do with fruits and vegetables?
Dietary fruits and vegetables are the principal source of micronutrients like folate and many antioxidants like ascorbate (vitamin C), carotenoids and tocopherol (vitamin E). These antioxidants help combat the damages produced by these oxidants made during metabolism. A low calorie diet has been proven to reduce the amount of oxidants produced by your metabolism, which means a reduction in oxidative stress, which has been linked to longer lifespans. Similarly diets high in antioxidants (like fruits and vegetables) promote health and reduce the effects of ageing. These are particularly valuable because relatively large levels may be consumed without any adverse effects.
But my body can fight off or repair oxidant damage
Although we have many inborn oxidant defenses, dietary antioxidants have unquestionable value. In fact, a large percentage of the overall population with low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables have been shown to have double the cancer rate (for most types of cancer) and have shown higher rates of cardiovascular disease. European countries that display low consumption of fruits and vegetables are generally in poorer health and have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer as compared to other countries with high fruit and vegetable intake.
As individuals get older their immune systems become severely weakened and unfortunately oxidants can cause your immune system to become even weaker. But, the good news is that many tragedies of ageing have been shown to be counteracted in elderly people who consume greater portions of fruits and vegetables or take dietary antioxidant supplementation.
So how do these antioxidants work?
Antioxidants are able to neutralize the damaging effects of metabolic oxidant by-products. A good example is Lycopene, which is a proven antioxidant found commonly in Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava, papaya, gac, and rosehip. Most impressively, early research has linked lycopene to a reduced risk of muscular degenerative disease and cancers of the lung, bladder and skin. Lycopene can trap singlet oxygen (a harmful component of oxidative stress) and reduce the mutation rate in cells, helping to suppress cancers (most notably prostate cancer).
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