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Antioxidant craze

Farmers Markets are a great place to find a variety of antioxidant rich foods.
Farmers Markets are a great place to find a variety of antioxidant rich foods.
nataliemaynor's Flickr photostream (Creative Commons.jpg)

     A new healthy buzz word that has been popping up more and more frequently in food and beverage ads is antioxidant.  But what are they and how do they affect our health? 

   Simply put an antioxidant is a molecule that reduces the break down of other molecules.  Every day activities can contribute to the damage of cells, physical activity and just being out in the sun unprotected can be huge factors. When molecules are broken down they create free radicals in the body.  These free radicals can damage cells all over the body, causing deterioration wherever they  reach.  These antioxidants help curb some of the damage by reducing the amount of free radicals.

Antioxidants have been found to be vital in disease prevention.  Neurological diseases and disorders that occur in the brain such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons have been shown to be drastically reduced just by incorporating antioxidant rich foods into the diet.

In the same way that these antioxidants reduce molecular breakdown, they also work wonders on the physical appearance as well.  They are found to significantly slow the aging process .  They aid the skin by preventing cell damage from the sun and pollutants, which cause wrinkles and age spots.  They also have been found to help you live a longer, healthier life by staving off the number one cause of death in America, heart disease and many variations of cancer.

Most people already consume antioxidants and they do not even know it, but the key is to get around 3,000 ORAC a day to get the most benefits.  Antioxidants are found in vitamins A, C and E as well as Selenium.  These vitamins are found in large number in green  tea as well as many fruits and vegetables.    It is important to note that the recommended serving of five fruits and vegetables a day will not normally get a person to these levels, but through the consumption of multiple high level foods it is quite attainable.  Some foods with very high amounts of antioxidants are; berries, pomegranates, oranges, kale, spinach, peppers, soy beans, pecans,oats and cinnamon.