There are more than 1500 recognised antioxidants and related phyto-chemicals in everyday common foods that do an uncommonly good job of combating free radicals in the body - those substances released internally during the process of oxidation and formed externally by environmental forces such as radiation, X-rays, drugs, pesticides, air and water pollutants, hydrocarbons, food additives, alcohol, smoking - you name it. Free radicals damage living cells and contribute to a continuing roll call of complaints, including interference with DNA programming, premature aging, heart disease, AIDS, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, allergies and diabetes.
Here’s how the antioxidant force can be with you when you eat. Perhaps the most celebrated of the free radical foes are the carotenoids (named for the carrots in which they were first isolated), of which there are approximately 40, including alpha and beta-carotene (found in carrots, apricots and sweet potatoes) and lutein (found in spinach, celery and kale). The carotenoids are especially potent in blocking cancer, fighting allergies and slowing the aging process. The most powerful members of the antioxidant family are probably the pycnogenols (also known as flavonoids) which are 20 times more potent than Vitamin C and 50 times more active than Vitamin E. Pycnogenols protect against capillary damage, bruising and improve your overall immunity to heart disease and cancer.
onions, green peppers, red wine, green tea and selected herbs. Beyond what it does for the common cold and flu, the vitamin-antioxidant ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can slow the onset of Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries by increasing the amount of protective high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your bloodstream, help prevent cataracts by guarding the eyes against oxidation, help lower blood pressure, and protect against a wide spectrum of cancers.
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a fat-soluble vitamin-antioxidant and important immune system stimulant that helps alleviate fatigue and provides tissue oxygen to accelerate the healing of wounds, burns and skin disorders such as acne and eczema. In partnership with the mineral selenium, it neutralizes free radicals that accelerate cellular and cerebral aging and raise the risk of cancer.
20 ANTIOXIDANTS - 40 FOOD SOURCES
Of the 20 nutrients critical in the prevention of cancer, half are antioxidants. And what’s true for cancer is true for heart disease and most other degenerative diseases. If your health’s on hold your body’s not equipped to fight back because its inadequately supplied with these food-based free radical scavengers. What do you need on a meal-to-meal basis to protect yourself ? Take a look.
YOUR HERBAL ANTIOXIDANT ARSENAL
Good herbal antioxidants to sip, sniff or cook with include alfalfa, rose-hips, peppermint, nettles, hawthorn, goldenseal and fenugreek, cumin, capsicum (red pepper), cinnamon and basil (all available as teas and tinctures).
FREE RADICALS’ BIGGEST FOE
Along with other major antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, selenium, and vitamin E, beta-carotene snuffs out free radicals, which cause the cellular changes that lead to degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, and cancer. Beta-carotene is the most celebrated and certainly the most visible (it’s the plant pigment that makes pink grapefruit pink and oranges orange) of all the antioxidants, but it is only one of the 30 to 50 of the carotene complex, including alpha carotene, gamma carotene, lycopene, lutein, and capsanthin, known to contain vitamin A. While all of the carotenes have the ability to partially convert on command into vitamin A (depending on the health of your thyroid and the presence of zinc and protein in your system) none are as readily found in common foods as beta-carotene.