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Antioxidants PART 1

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By Mayra Rodriguez

With all the headlines and media coverage surrounding Antioxidants and super foods lately, it’s hard to ignore this health buzz. Most of us probably understand that antioxidants are good for us but wonder what exactly they are.

No worries…I’ll provide a clear and direct explanation: It all starts with free radicals. Free radicals are nasty chemicals that are capable of damaging cells and genetic material. The body generates free radicals as byproducts of turning food into energy. Other free radicals are in the food we eat or are even generated by sunlight’s action on the skin and eyes.

But there is good news; we aren’t hopeless against free radicals. The body itself has created a defense mechanism against free radicals, but we can also extract free-radical fighters from food. Antioxidants work by donating electrons to free radicals without turning into electron-snatching substances themselves.

Some studies have shown that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are at greater risk for developing chronic conditions. Clinical trials began testing the impact of single substances, especially beta-carotene and vitamin E, as weapons against heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.