by Gail Bowman
Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when the human body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and carotenoids may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Other naturally occurring antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. Plant-based foods are the best sources. These include fruits, vegetables and their juices, whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and even chocolate.
There has been a lot of research in the last 10 years about the advantages, or disadvantages of antioxidants for health. Although the evidence that isolated antioxidants like beta carotene are not as effective as eating the whole fruit (or vegetable), more and more research is coming out that supports eating fruits and vegetables to fight diseases like heart disease, cancer, and even weight loss.
“If you are a person who thinks about exposure to toxins and wants to give your body as much detox support as possible, antioxidants are a food that needs to be in your diet. Research over the past few years has discovered just how important antioxidants are in the human diet, ” said Dr Don Colbert in a recent article. “Beets are a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, Vitamin C, zinc and iron. Red beets also contain polyphenols and betalains. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, polyphenols, a type of powerful antioxidant, are clinically proven to prevent cardiovascular disease in humans. Studies suggest that polyphenols from red beets and even red beet juice could be beneficial in cancer, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative disease cases.”
It seems that one study after another supports the use of whole food fruits and berries to bolster the body’s ability to heal and recover from illness and weight gain. These same studies tend to be opposed to the individually extracted ingredients found in many health supplements.
Raspberries: A recent article on Worlds Healthiest Foods.org, “The benefits of raspberries have long been attributed to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In animal studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal, and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role in lowering oxidative stress and reducing inflammation.”
Apples: In an article on NBC news on 1/19/2007, author Karen Collins stated, “Scientists have now calculated the antioxidant power of one apple is equal to more than 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C. The vast majority of its antioxidants come from flavonoids.”
Blueberries: According to Dr Mercola, “Past research has shown that women who ate more than three servings per week of blueberries (and strawberries) had a 32 percent lower risk of having a heart attack. The benefit was due to flavonoids in the berries known as anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that give these fruits their characteristic red and purple hues. Anthocyanins are known to benefit the endothelial lining of your circulatory system, possibly preventing plaque buildup in arteries as well as promoting healthy blood pressure.
Other research has shown these antioxidants to protect against heart disease by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, while enhancing capillary strength and inhibiting platelet formation.”
Acai: “Acai berry supplements contain antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats. They may have more antioxidant content than other commonly eaten berries, such as cranberries, blueberries and strawberries, ” said the Mayo Clinic, in an article printed March 15, 2015, in their Healthy Lifestyle magazine.
A great deal of scientific research has been conducted over the last 20 years on the application of antioxidants from whole food sources to combat free radicals and oxidative stress. Of the studies that we examined, 100% suggested using the whole food source of antioxidants, and not the isolated form of the same antioxidant.