Changes in our lifestyles, more environmental pollution and less quality in our diets mean that we are exposed to more free radicals than ever before.
Free radicals (the by-products of oxidants) can harm our cells by causing stress to their surface, and ultimately damaging them. Our body’s smart response is to produce an armour of antioxidants against the free radicals – and save the day by protecting our cells.
Your ability to produce antioxidants is controlled by genetics, but is also influenced by exposure to environmental factors such as diet and smoking.
So how can you help yourself? Antioxidants are both manufactured by the body and absorbed from the food we eat. A diet including a great variety of fruits and vegetables (berries especially, as well as cruciferous vegetables) will ensure good bioavailability of antioxidants – taking care not to overcook food, as this can damage nutrients.
New research reported in BioMed Central’s ‘Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism‘ provides evidence that taking antioxidant supplements long-term produces benefits in people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Study and results came from a randomised, 6-month controlled trial of several vitamins and minerals (vitamin C and E, and selenium amongst others).
Regular tests were conducted during and after the trial, and confirmed that out of two groups (one given antioxidant supplements and the other given a placebo), the ‘antioxidant group’ had marked improvements in its cardiovascular health, good cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
More information on antioxidants, the trial and the findings is available at Pub.Med.gov.
In the meantime, enjoy those berries (fresh or in powder form!).