No caveman ever heard the term “antioxidant,” but he knew enough to consume them in large quantities, which may explain why cancer wasn’t so prevalent in Paleolithic times.
The cells of the human body break down as cellular molecules are robbed of electrons. This process is called “oxidation,” rather like the body of a car rusting.
In this regard, “antioxidants” can be thought of as rust preventers. They inhibit natural decay.
It makes sense, then, that antioxidants can be highly beneficial to human health. They can play a major role in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
There is also growing evidence that they may help stop the formation of potential carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
Antioxidants can be found in such nutrients as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, manganese, and zinc, as well as the uric acid produced in you own body and the phytochemicals found in plants.
The latter go by such names as allyl sulfides, anthocyanidins, carotenoids, catechins, flavones, flavonoids, isoflavones, isothiocyanates and polyphenols, which cavemen just called “food.”
Indeed, the best source of antioxidants is natural, whole food, especially fruit and vegetables.
By contrast, most processed foods contain very few antioxidants, as do overcooked foods. The process of heating up fruits and vegetables can destroy their nutritive and antioxidant properties.
In a recent issue of Men’s Health, Dr. Johnny Bowden identified ten foods rich in antioxidants that many people do not include in their diets.
They include beets, cabbage, cinnamon, dried plums, goji berries, guava, pomegranate juice, pumpkin seeds and Swiss chard as well as purslane, which is overlooked as a summer weed in many locations.
Another rich source of antioxidants is a species of holly known as Yerba Mate. It is used to brew a beverage that has for centuries been more popular than coffee or tea in many parts of South America, where the incidence of cancer is relatively low compared to Europe, North America and Asia.
Alfablue, July 2012