Who has not heard of products such as juices and smoothies, vitamin A, C and E, and even candy containing vitamins or multiple benefits achieved through the inclusion of plant foods in the diet? The media insist on the virtues of foodstuffs fortified with vitamins and potential health benefits, praising his role in the fight against "oxidation" of the organism to certain diseases and demographic aging. Today, nutrition and dietetics not only dealing with food components that provide nutritional benefits: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Other substances with antioxidant properties, also exert a salutary effect on our body.
What are antioxidants
This is a group of vitamins, minerals, natural dyes and other plant compounds and enzymes (substances from our body involved in multiple metabolic processes), which block the damaging effect of the so-called free radicals. Most of the antioxidants found in plant foods, which explains that include fruits, legumes, vegetables or whole grains in our diet is so beneficial.
Free radicals and oxidation
Breathing in oxygen is essential for cellular life of our body, but because of the same molecules are produced, free radicals, which lead to lifelong negative health effects for their ability to alter the DNA (genes), proteins and lipids or fats. In our body there are cells that are continually (skin, intestine?) And others not (liver cells, neurons?). Over the years, free radicals can cause a genetic defect on the first, increasing the risk of cancer, and reduce the functionality of the latter (the cells that are not renewed), which is characteristic of aging. Habits as common as intense physical exercise, smoking, consumption of diets rich in fats and overexposure to solar radiation and environmental pollution, increase the production of free radicals.
Benefits of antioxidants
In recent years it has been scientifically investigated the role of antioxidants in cardiovascular disease in many types of cancer, AIDS and still others directly associated with the aging process, such as cataracts or nervous system. The studies focus on vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, selenium and zinc. The relationship between antioxidants and cardiovascular disease, and possibly cerebrovascular diseases, is now sufficiently established. It is known that modification of the "bad" cholesterol (LDL-c) plays a fundamental role in the initiation and development of atherosclerosis (thickening and abnormal hardness internal covers the blood vessels due to deposition of fatty material , which prevents or hinders the passage of the blood). Antioxidants can block free radicals that modify the bad cholesterol, reducing cardiovascular risk. On the other hand, low levels of antioxidants may be a risk factor for certain types of cancer.
Although the intake of foods rich in antioxidants reduces the risk of certain diseases, they do not alter the normal deterioration that leads to old age and enable us to live longer. And it has been shown that high-dose supplementation with antioxidant preparations can be counterproductive. Although each day is known about the benefits of antioxidants - is to promote consumption through food that contains naturally-it is too early to say whether it is appropriate or not daily supplementation, as it know the correct dosages. Therefore, the right thing is to follow a varied and balanced diet, not missing the vegetables and not abuse or food supplements enriched with antioxidants.
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