Understanding the role of Antioxidants – a Simple Explanation

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Blackberries are a source of polyphenol antiox...

Blackberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Martha Jette

We hear a lost these days about antioxidants and how important they are to our overall health, but do we really know what they are?

Do we really understand how antioxidants help us avoid such illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and macular degeneration? They also reduce blood pressure and slow the aging process, but how?

According to Wikipedia antioxidants are molecules “capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules.” Great; so what does that mean?

Health Castle.com states: “Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body.”

Well so far, we’re not getting anywhere are we? Since we’re not specialists in biology or physiology, it can all be just too confusing.

However, the site continues to note that the cells in our body need and use oxygen but when they do, they also produce free radicals that can be damaging. Now, we need to know what free radicals are, don’t we?

According to Wise Geek.com free radicals are “organic molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases. These molecules are very unstable, therefore they look to bond with other molecules, destroying their vigor and perpetuating the detrimental process. Some molecules are unstable.

They do not have an even number of electrons, so they are always searching for an extra electron they can ‘steal’ to become stable.”
Hmm… I believe that means free radicals are unstable molecules that try to bond with stable molecules but end up killing them in the process. That can’t be good!

But how can foods and supplements high in antioxidants help? According to Health Castle.com, antioxidants go after the free radicals and prevent them from damaging healthy tissue.

Now it makes sense.

With help from foods high in antioxidants, the body can get rid of these free radicals. A recent study involving the testing over more than 100 foods rich in antioxidants came up with the ten best…

Stay tuned for a future article listing those, with really pretty original pictures!

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