We often forget that the reason that foods are deemed healthy or unhealthy is due to their actual nutrient content. The main nutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There are also some components of our food that are not necessarily nutrients, but are equally, if not more important than any sort of nutrient we can get.
One of these nutritional components is the antioxidant. Antioxidants are not necessarily substances, but they are actually chemical properties within the body. This chemical property essentially gives certain ions within our food to lend an electron to other molecules. Antioxidants have a powerful ability to protect our bodies against free radicals.
What is a free radical? Free radicals are naturally occurring particles in the body that are unfortunately results of the process of turning food into energy. There are also free radicals that occur in nature that are absorbed into our bodies. Some free radicals come from the air and enter our bodies through the respiratory system, while others occur as a result the reaction of our skin to sunlight.
Free radicals are highly dangerous as they have the ability to change the structure of our cells and alter the genetic material contained within our cells. When this occurs, the chances of cancer and other chronic conditions developing increases dramatically.
Free radicals are constantly in need of electrons from other molecules in the body. The value of antioxidants in our bodies is in that ability to meet the electron needs of these free radicals. Antioxidants can neutralize the free radicals effectively removing them our bodies.
Berries, leafy green vegetables, green tea, and many other foods are known to have high levels of antioxidants. In researching what foods contain high antioxidant levels, we can effectively ward off chronic conditions from developing. While we cannot rely on antioxidants to prevent disease, they are definitely nutritional assets in our dietary arsenal.
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