Monthly Archives: October 2010

'Full of Antioxidants' by Kirstin Massmann

When people discuss nutrition and healthy foods they usually use a lot of buzz words or phrases such as ‘full of antioxidants’ or ‘high in fiber’ and ‘lots of omega fatty acids’.  But how many people actually know what they’re saying?  I think everyone knows these things are healthy but may not necessarily know why. 
What are antioxidants and why are they good for us?  To understand antioxidants it’s first important to go back to high school biology and chemistry and understand how your cells breakdown.  Excessive sun exposure, smoking, poor diets, alcohol consumption and normal ware and tare on your body all contribute to cells undergoing oxidative stress which releases free radicals.  Unstable free radicals then search for a way to be neutralized and take electrons from cells.  If the cells are broken down enough it can cause harm to your DNA and cell membrane.  The more cells are harmed, the ability for them to function properly in your body decreases.
Antioxidants work to neutralize and eliminate free radicals.  This action helps preserve the life of cells which keeps your body functioning normally.  Antioxidants are found in many foods but specifically in colorful fruits and vegetables.  The most commonly known antioxidants are vitamin A and carotenoids (found mostly in brightly colored orange, red and green fruits and vegetables), vitamin C (mostly found in citrusy fruits), vitamin E (in leafy greens), and selenium (found if fish, eggs, meat and nuts).  When consumed in moderation, red wine also has health benefiting antioxidants called flavonoids which are also found in teas, pomegranates and cranberries.
So the moral of the blog is not necessarily to remember how your cells and free radicals work but to hopefully give you one more reason to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your everyday balanced diet.