Antioxidants are substances which help defend the body against cell damage caused by various free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have been mutated by exposure to pollution, the sun’s rays, etc. and seek to attach themselves to various cells in the body and change the cell composition. When this happens, the cells and DNA are damaged and reproduce in mutations that can lead to many different ailments such as heart disease and hardening of the arteries. Some scientists even believe that free radicals cause the aging process in humans.
When foods such as fruits, vegetables or vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, etc. are consumed in recommended amounts, antioxidants are formed and flood the bloodstream with their defences against the free radical molecules. Diets rich in vitamins C and E and beta-carotene are strong defenders against heart disease, cancer and almost all other diseases.
Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene are well known antioxidants yet minerals such as zinc and selenium are also potent antioxidants. Red wine and green tea also contain protective antioxidant compounds.
Doctors recommend that most antioxidants should be taken from the diet rather than by the use of supplements. Eating five to six portions of fruits and vegetables daily will supply the needed daily requirements of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene nutrients. Some food sources are strawberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe and butternut squash.