IN THIS CORNER, free radicals. Free radicals—molecules that are the consequence of stress, exposure to environmental pollutants and even exercise—
damage the body’s systems through a process called cellular oxidation,
which experts compare to rusting. Cellular oxidation damages the cell’s vital
genetic material—DNA and RNA. The result is cell mutation, cell degeneration
and a weakened immune system. It’s no wonder scientists associate free radicals with an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, loss of eyesight,
acceleration of the aging process and innumerable other health problems.
In the opposite corner are antioxidants, the body’s rustproofing agents.
Antioxidants are a series of enzymes and essential nutrients within the body
that can protect it from the destructive effects of free radicals in every cell.
They work together like a fine mesh screen over a fireplace.
Over and over again, researchers’ studies point to a strong correlation
between the presence of antioxidants and good health.
The top three antioxidants are vitamins C and E and beta-carotene (the
body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A). Bioflavonoids and minerals such
as selenium and zinc, as well as choline, L-cysteine, superoxide dismutase
and glutathione peroxidase, are also beneficial antioxidants. Tannins such as
punicalagin, found in pomegranate juice, and xanthones, biologically active
plant phenols found in a few select tropical plants, such as mangosteen, have
been found to support and enhance the body’s immune system.
So how do you fill up on antioxidants? You can eat an abundance of antiox-idant-rich foods or take them in the form of vitamin and mineral supplements.
The challenge is that you need at least two portions of fruit and three
portions of vegetables to supply a protective level of beta-carotene and
vitamin C. And the best sources of vitamin E are fatty foods that many people
are cutting back on, such as oils, nuts, wheat germ and egg yolks.
Therefore, the justification for supplemental antioxidants is considerable.
It’s important to remember, however, that while antioxidants are extremely
important, they are but one part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, good nutrition
and sensible habits need to be observed as well.
Ranges in the recommended daily allowance for supplements can vary
due to age, gender and other factors. As with any new medicine or supplement,
you should consult your physician to choose a regimen that’s best for you. A
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MANGOSTEEN: FRUIT AND FLOWER
MANGOSTEEN, THE fruit of an evergreen that the fruit. The white flesh is split into five to
originated in Malaysia, the Philippines and seven segments, similar in appearance to a
Indonesia, has been cultivated for thousands mandarin, with very small edible seeds. The
of years, not only for its fruit, but also for its texture has been described as somewhere
magnificent pink flowers. Its rind is very thick, between a well-ripened plum and ice cream,
tough and inedible. The delicate fruit inside with an incomparable delicious flavor.
makes up only one-quarter of the weight of —The Food Encyclopedia (Robert Rose, 2006)