Free radicals are unstable atoms that are naturally formed during metabolism or by exposure to environmental toxins. In excess, free radicals can damage cells, cause diseases, and accelerate aging.
While the body produces free radicals every day, its defense system is capable of eliminating the excess. However, when there is a disturbance in maintaining this balance, excess free radicals stay in the body and cause oxidative stress.
Multiple studies have shown that oxidative stress can lead to a range of diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain cancers
- Macular degeneration
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Gastric and duodenal ulcers
What causes free radical formation?
Free radicals are produced naturally in the body every day. However, certain factors can increase their production:
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants fight the damage caused by free radicals and minimize the effects of oxidative stress on your body. These defenders can be obtained from food and play a role in repairing DNA and maintaining the health of cells.
Some common antioxidants and their food sources include:
- Vitamin C
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beets, collards)
- Bell peppers
- Vitamin E
- Swiss chard
- Leafy greens
- Red peppers
- Spinach (boiled)
- Sunflower seeds
- Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lycopene
- Bell peppers
- Collard greens
- Pink grapefruit
- Winter squash
- Sweet potato
- Brazil nuts
- Brown rice
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fortified cereals
- Red wine
- Red and white wine
- Coumaric acid
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Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118-126. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
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