Why You Need Antioxidants!
Why You Need Antioxidants
You need antioxidants to help prevent damage to your body caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that attack the body from the outside (caused by sunlight, pollution, electromagnetic radiation, etc.), and from the inside due to normal metabolism and living.
These unstable free radical molecules, through a self-perpetuating chain reaction, cause millions of new free radicals that damage proteins, cells, tissues, and organs. They cause aging, degenerative changes, inflammation and disease -- thus reducing your lifespan.
Antioxidants prevent damage by protecting those proteins, cells, tissues, and organs that are targeted by free radicals. They have been shown to:
Prevent heart disease
Prevent a variety of cancers
Strengthen the immune system.
Now that we understand why they are so important to our health, where do we find them?
Antioxidants in Your Food
Most antioxidants occur naturally in food. They can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as in tea and other herbs.
Foods scoring high in an antioxidant analysis called ORAC may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage, according to studies of animals and human blood at the Agricultural Research Service's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University..
ORAC, short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a lab analysis that measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances.
Early findings suggest that eating plenty of high-ORAC fruits and vegetables -- such as mangosteen (ORAC = 17,000), spinach (ORAC = 1,260) or blueberries (ORAC = 2,400) -- may help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain.
Health Benefits of High-ORAC Foods
According to research studies, consumption of high ORAC foods:
Raised the antioxidant power of human blood 10% - 25%.
Prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats.
Maintained the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus -- a function that normally decreases with age.
Protected rats' tiny blood vessels (capillaries) against oxygen damage.
The thesis that oxidative damage culminates in many of the maladies of aging is well accepted in the medical community. The evidence has spurred skyrocketing sales of antioxidant vitamins. But several large trials have had mixed results. "It may be that combinations of nutrients found in foods have greater protective effects than each nutrient taken alone," said Guohua Cao, a physician and chemist who developed the ORAC assay.
Dr. Cao has seen the ORAC value of human blood rise in two studies. In the first, eight women gave blood after separately ingesting spinach, strawberries and red wine--all high-ORAC foods--or taking 1,250 milligrams of vitamin C. A large serving of fresh spinach produced the biggest rise in the women's blood antioxidant scores -- up to 25% -- followed by vitamin C, strawberries and red wine.
In the second study, men and women had a 13% - 15% increase in the antioxidant power of their blood after doubling their daily fruit and vegetable intake compared to what they consumed before the study. Just doubling intake, without regard to ORAC scores of the fruits and vegetables, more than doubled the number of ORAC units the volunteers consumed.
A convenient source of high-ORAC fruits can be found in the mangosteen fruit juice blend.