Antioxidants, substances that help prevent the damaging effects of oxidation on cells throughout your body, are plentiful in many foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Because there are beneficial interactions between antioxidants and other components of foods, health authorities say that getting antioxidants from food may offer health benefits superior to those taken in supplement form.
Antioxidants in your morning coffee or tea may help prevent heart disease, according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. A study published in the October 2012 issue of the “International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology” found that polyphenol antioxidants in coffee and tea prevent oxidation of fats, a process that promotes widespread inflammation and can increase risk of heart disease and diabetes. Lighter roasts of coffee can provide up to four times the antioxidant activity of tea, according to Drs. Roseane M. Santos and Darcy R. Lima, co-authors of the book “An Unashamed Defense of Coffee: 101 Reasons to Drink Coffee Without Guilt.” However, darker roasts may retain little to none of the antioxidants present in raw coffee beans.
Berries, which have become known for their abundant quantities of health-promoting antioxidants, provide potentially more health-boosting benefits than the same antioxidants taken in supplement form, according to the Oregon State University Department of Food Science and Technology. Fiber and other compounds have a synergistic effect when combined with antioxidants.
Food Combining and Antioxidants
A study published in the September 2012 issue of the “Journal of Medicinal Food” found that certain combinations of antioxidant-rich foods offer particular benefits not found in the foods by themselves. When antioxidants in blueberry, strawberry and phytoplankton are combined, they together protect the nervous system by inhibiting an enzyme that may be involved in certain neurologic disorders, including autism, depression and schizophrenia.
Antioxidants in foods, including vitamins A, C and E, polyphenols and certain minerals, such as selenium boost immune function by quenching free radicals, highly-reactive compounds that are formed as byproducts of normal processes in the body or enter the body from the environment, according to Penn State University. By neutralizing these harmful compounds, antioxidants help prevent against some forms of cancer and can help bolster the immune system in the management of HIV infection. An animal study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal “Carcinogenesis” found that vitamin C increased activity of an important antioxidant enzyme that helps prevent breast cancer.
Antioxidants in foods, such as such as vitamins E and C, may help delay the aging process and prevent or even reverse memory loss, according to a study published in the December 2008 issue of the journal “Age.” In the animal study, blueberry-rich diets improved the ability of brain cells to maintain long-term communication and establish strong connections.
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