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- 4 Must-Know Points About Eating the Rainbow
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Antioxidants play a major role in preventing cancer and keeping us healthy! They work by "sweeping out" free radicals (elements that were once part of a group, have broken off, and can be hazardous to your health) from your body. Here's how they work and what you can do about it!
1. Free radicals are molecules with incomplete electron shells, which make them more chemically reactive than those with complete electron shells. In humans, the most common form of free radicals is oxygen. When an oxygen molecule (O2) becomes electrically charged or "radicalized" it tries to steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to the DNA and other molecules. Over time, such damage may become irreversible and lead to disease including cancer.
2. Antioxidants are chemicals that generously offer up their own electrons to the free radicals, thus sparing your body unnecessary cellular damage. Every time they neutralize a free radical, the antioxidant loses an electron and stops functioning as an antioxidant. This is why you must continually re-supply your body with the vitamins and other chemicals that act as antioxidants.
3. The darker or richer the color of fruits and vegetables, the higher the quantity of antioxidants. Fruit juices can contain some antioxidants, but not as much as the fruit from which they are made. Antioxidants are mainly found in the skins and pulps of fruits. Some spices have very high quantities of antioxidants such as these: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemon balm, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme.
4. Color Matters. While we know a lot about antioxidants and how they work, what we don't know is if each specific antioxidant matches up with a specific type of free radical, so to be safe and cover your bases, the general recommendation is to vary your antioxidant intake. See if you can try and get each color each day, and try a new fruit or vegetable each week! Here are some ideas.