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Posts tagged ‘antioxidants’

Antioxidants for vitality

We need to stabilise free radical activity in our bodies before they cause more harm

ANTIOXIDANTS are a classification of organic substances that function by deactivating free radicals or dangerous particles that roam in our cells.

Free radicals are the natural by-products of many metabolic processes within our cells. They are essentially atoms or a group of atoms that have at least one unpaired electron.

This unpaired electron is highly reactive. Free radicals in small doses promote beneficial oxidation that help to destroy bacteria that invade our cells.

But excessive amounts of free radicals — caused by too much exposure to various environmental factors, such as bad air quality, tobacco smoke, radiation — can cause the free radicals to turn against us.

They then become harmful by damaging our healthy cells by producing harmful oxidation processes.

Over time, excessive free radicals cause damage to healthy cells and genetic material in our body. Researchers believe that in extreme cases and over a long period of time, free radicals can cause irreversible damage to cells and this can lead to diseases such a cancer, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cataracts and more.

Exposure to the environment and radiation is something we cannot really prevent totally as it is part and parcel of everyday living. Coupled with an unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and other excesses,

it’s no wonder we are falling prey to many diseases.

This is where antioxidants help by stabilising free radical activity before they cause more harm. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are those high in Vitamin A (the precursor is beta carotene), C, E, the mineral selenium and phytochemicals.

Foods that are rich in these nutrients are mainly vegetables, fruit, nuts and whole grains, such as wholemeal bread, whole grain cereal, oatmeal, just to name a few.

Phytochemicals are substances that give different fruit and vegetables their unique colour and researchers are finding out many potent antioxidant activity that these phytochemicals are capable of.

It is important to eat foods rich in antioxidants every day. The problem is, due our hectic lifestyle, we often make do with quick meals that lack vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and legumes.

You may notice your local pharmacy stocks shelves of antioxidant supplements, usually in high doses too. Can these antioxidant pills actually replace eating a well balanced diet?

Researchers are not too convinced if these supplements bring about the results they promise for our long term well-being. As they try to fully understand how antioxidants actually work in deactivating free radicals, they still recommend that the best way to get your antioxidant nutrients is from natural whole foods, which contain other components of nutrition.

Read more: EAT WELL: Antioxidants for vitality – Health – New Straits Times

Chocolate ‘may help keep people slim’

Chocolate contains antioxidants but is also high in fat and sugar

By Michelle Roberts Health reporter, BBC News


People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner, new research suggests.

The findings come from a study of nearly 1,000 US people that looked at diet, calorie intake and body mass index (BMI) – a measure of obesity.

It found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.

Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe.

Despite boosting calorie intake, regular chocolate consumption was related to lower BMI in the study, which is published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account.

And it appears it is how often you eat chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it you eat. The study found no link with quantity consumed.

According to the researchers, there is only one chance in a hundred that their findings could be explained by chance alone.

But the findings only suggest a link – not proof that one factor causes the other.

Lead author Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California at San Diego, said: “Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight.”

This is not the first time scientists have suggested that chocolate may be healthy for us.

Other studies have claimed chocolate may be good for the heart.

Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been linked to some favourable changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level.

And chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain antioxidants which can help to mop up harmful free radicals – unstable chemicals that can damage our cells.

Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight – at least studies in rodents would suggest this might be so.

Mice fed for 15 days with epicatechin (present in dark chocolate) had improved exercise performance and observable changes to their muscle composition.

They say clinical trials are now needed in humans to see if this is the case.

But before you reach for a chocolate bar, there are still lots of unanswered questions. And in the absence of conclusive evidence, experts advise caution.

While there’s no harm in allowing yourself a treat like chocolate now and again, eating too much might be harmful because it often contains a lot of sugar and fat too.

And if you are looking to change your diet, you are likely to benefit most from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Read More: BBC

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