ANTIOXIDANTS PREVENT FREE RADICAL DAMAGE TO THE BODY

freeradicals

FREE RADICALS

Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that usually result from metabolisms and other body reactions.

When you burn food for energy, breath polluted air, drink polluted water of even live a stressful life, your body releases unstable oxygen molecules which float freely in search of a molecule to partner with. These unstable oxygen molecules will steal any molecule they come across. This could even be from a healthy cell tissue. In the process they create other unstable cells which in turn look to steal a molecule from other healthy cells and the process goes on and on and on until tissues are damaged.

These unstable oxygen molecules (or unstable tissue cells created thereof) are what are known as Free Radicals. Free radicals accelerate the rate of cell oxidation particularly among cells within the blood vessels leading to cholesterol formation and clogging of blood vessels, a major cause of high blood pressure. Free radicals are also known to cause a host of degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, premature aging etc.

 

ANTIOXIDANTS

Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals

Nutrients like Vitamin A, Beta – Carotene, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium amongst others have been found to have very powerful antioxidant activity. Many of these nutrients are removed during food processing. We have to eat foods or take dietary supplements that contain sufficient amounts of these protective nutrients if we are interested in protecting our body against the undesired effects of damaging free radicals.

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VITAMIN C PLUS GARLIC: GOOD FOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Vitamin C+Garlic 3

Vitamin C is an Antioxidant. Vitamin C:

  1. Prevents the damage caused by free radicals and plays an important preventive role in virtually all degenerative diseases.
  2. It protects Vitamin B, Vitamins A and Vitamin E from oxidation and deterioration in the body. Oxidation of cells is a major cause of free-radical damage linked to most degenerative diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, etc).
  3. Helps maintain the strength of blood vessels, especially capillaries. This is important because blood pressure increases when blood vessels lose their elasticity and harden or develop weak spots that easily rupture.

 

GARLIC

Garlic, a plant that is part of the Allium vegetable family (garlic, onions, chives, leeks, etc) has been used throughout history as folk remedies, and are a subject of investigation for modern researchers with research confirming Alliums many health benefits, particularly with regard to heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal cancer and infectious diseases.

Garlic contains over 200 different compounds! Of vitamins and minerals, garlic supplies high levels of phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc; moderate measures of selenium and vitamins A and C; and lesser amounts of calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, manganese and B-vitamins. Alliums also contain flavonoids and other antioxidants, essential oils and fatty acids, amino acids, pectin, carbohydrates and sulfur compounds (notably allicin). Allicin alone reacts with oxygen to produce more than 70 sulfur compounds!

These sulfur compounds are powerful antioxidants that protect against the damaging effects of free radicals that damage LDL cholesterol. Damaged LDL cholesterol destroys artery walls. It is this inhibition of free radical’s that is part of the reason garlic is a most effective natural agents for lowering blood pressure. Garlic has been found to lower both Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure when consumed regularly.

GARLIC AND VITAMIN C: GOOD FOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Publishing in the journal “Nutrition Research” scientists showed that a combination of garlic and vitamin-C are effective in lowering blood pressure. They reported that while garlic alone provided some benefit, vitamin-C alone did not. But when the two are combined a significant reduction in blood pressure was noted. They pointed out that the blood pressure of their subject decreased when garlic and vitamin-C were delivered together and increased when the supplements were taken away. (Nutrition Research; Volume 27, Issue 2, pages 119-123, March 2007)

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BRIGHT COLORED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES RICH IN CAROTENOIDS

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The American Heart Association (See Healthy Lifestyle at www.americanheart.org) recommends that we eat plenty of Vegetables and fruits to prevent against heart Disease and stroke. Eating a variety of Vegetables and fruits – especially brightly colored Vegetables and fruits rich in carotenoids – may help control your blood pressure.

Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help protect our bodies against degenerative diseases. Two carotenoids, Lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly important to Cardiovascular health.  Lutein is a yellow-to-orange pigment or phytochemical found mostly in plants and works as an antioxidant in your body to reduce the damage done by free radicals. Lutein is a carotenoid and is related to vitamin A. Other carotenoids include beta carotene, alpha carotene and zeaxanthin.

THE SWEDISH STUDY

In 2006, researchers from Sweden found that people suffering from coronary artery disease have consistently low levels of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta cryptoxanthin.

Conversely, they found that the healthy persons in the control group had significantly higher levels of these carotenoids in their blood. They think it’s connected to immune function because of the higher levels of natural killer cells in the people with higher levels of these carotenoids.

“This finding suggests a specific link between certain carotenoids, oxidative stress, and immune perturbation imbalance in coronary artery disease,” said lead researcher Caroline Lidebjer from the University Hospital at Linkoping, Sweden. (Feb. 2006 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, doi: 10.1016/numecd.2006.02.2006).

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FOLIC ACID AND VITAMIN B6 MAY REDUCE DEATHS FROM STROKE AND HEART DISEASE

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Vitamin B is an important group of nutrients that the body must acquire through the diet in order to transform food into energy, maintain a strong immune system, balance the many body’s hormones and perform a variety of tasks. Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B3, Folic Acid, Pantothenic acid (also known as vitamin B5), Vitamin B6 (or Pyridoxine) are all important in supporting cardiovascular health. However, Sugar, white flour, alcohol, stress, environmental pollution and overcooking all deplete B Vitamins in the body.

THE JAPAN COLLABORATIVE COHORT STUDY

A Japanese study dubbed “the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study” showed that foods rich in B vitamins like folic acid and B-6 may reduce the risk of death from stroke and heart problems.

The researchers examined data from 23,119 men and 35,611 women between ages 40 and 79 who completed questionnaires about dietary habits. They found that at a median of 14 years follow-up, 986 people had died from stroke, 424 from heart disease, and 2,087 from all diseases related to the cardiovascular system.

Patients were divided into five groups based on their intake of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Researchers compared people with the diets lowest and highest for each nutrient and found that higher consumption of folic acid and B6 was associated with significantly fewer deaths from heart failure in men. In women, they detected significantly fewer deaths from stroke, heart disease, and total cardiovascular deaths.

Vitamin B12 was not found to be associated with a reduced risk of mortality.

The researchers say B6 and folic acid may fight cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is believed to cause damage to the inner linings of arteries, promotes blood clots and causes heart disease. The researchers say the Japan findings on the value of B vitamins were consistent with studies in North America and Europe.

Sources of folic acid include vegetables, fruits, whole or enriched grains, fortified cereals, beans, and legumes. B-6 sources include fish, vegetables, liver, meats, whole grains, and fortified cereals.

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VITAMIN E: GOOD FOR YOUR HEART

VitaminE

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant nutrient that combats the effect of free radicals. You cannot get optimal amounts of this nutrient through food. Even those foods that used to contain small amounts of vitamin E like vegetable oils have had their Vitamin E removed through food processing. Refined oils actually deplete your body of vitamin E and increase your need to supplement.

Vitamin E;

  1. Has been shown to reduce free radical damage and improve the action of insulin in diabetics.
  2. Protects the heart from damage that occurs when Magnesium is deficient in the body.
  3. Increases the cell’s ability to protect itself from undesirable reactions with oxygen.
  4. Protects unsaturated fatty acids (good Fats) and vitamin A against oxidation in the body.

 

THE ATBC STUDY

Evidence published in the November 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol. 84, pgs.1200-1207) from the ATBC (Alphatocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention) Study showed that those participants with the highest Concentrations of vitamin-E in their blood had the lowest disease risk and highest health potential.

The study, lead by U.S. National Cancer Institute researcher Dr. Margaret Wright, followed nearly 30,000 men for up to 19 years. Men with the highest levels of vitamin E in their blood had a 21% lower risk of death from cancer, a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 30% lower risk of death from other causes. Dr. Wright and her colleagues note that there are several proven mechanisms by which vitamin-E conveys its benefits, including its powerful antioxidant capacity, and its ability to boost immune system function and prevent tumor blood vessel growth.

Food sources of vitamin E include eggs, fruit, nuts, dark green vegetables, butter, cereals, lettuce, organ meats.

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OMEGA 3 KEEPS YOUR CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM HEALTHY

Omega3

Omega-3 fatty acids play critical roles in the human diet in particular, two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are required for normal growth and development and optimal function of the heart, blood and blood vessels, brain, nerves, eyes, joints, skin and sex organs. Omega-3 “thin” blood and decrease the risk of blood clots and heart arrhythmias.

Omega-3 fatty acids are called “essential” because the human body cannot produce them in sufficient quantities, so they must be supplied in the diet. For instance, the body can make the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from a parent compound, linolenic acid, but this synthesis is slow and unreliable. For this reason it is more efficient to obtain them directly from the diet as preformed nutrients, as they occur in fish oil. Many people do not eat the required 2 – 3 servings of fatty fish per week as recommended by dietary scientists.

Initially omega-3 fatty acids were identified as heart-health protectors that helped keep cholesterol balanced, triglycerides low and blood flow easier through veins and arteries. They are now known to play key roles in the structure and function of the heart, the veins and arteries that make up the entire cardiovascular system.

In a review article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 84 pp. 5-17; July 2006), researchers looked at a total of 43 studies. Those that made up the largest groups, more than 340,000 participants, reported “significant reductions” in risks to heart health, making a large step forward toward greater assurance of benefits. One study reported that an 850 mg dose of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) resulted in a 21% reduction in death from all causes; a 35% reduction in cardiac death and a 45% reduction in sudden death. In their conclusion the Columbia University researchers stated, “We believe that the body of evidence is strong enough to suggest that in the United States, certainly, and in other countries where omega-3 fatty acid consumption is low, public health initiatives are needed to increase intakes.”

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ZINC DEFICIENCY ASSOCIATED WITH CARDIOVASCULAR RISK THROUGH INFLAMATION

Zincdeficiency

Zinc is an important mineral and performs a myriad of functions in our body. Zinc is involved in the absorption and activity of vitamins especially the B complex vitamins. It helps eliminate cholesterol deposits, It is part of 25 enzymes related to digestion and has long been known as a “protector mineral” because it is an important building block of natural antioxidant enzymes made in the body such as glutathione, peroxidase, and super oxide dismutase.

Two studies further support zinc’s critical importance.

The September 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition (vol. 135, pp 2114-2118) reported that zinc deficiency was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammation. New research published online in the March 2006 issue of the journal Free Radical Biology in Medicine (doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.03.017) further supports the oxidation/inflammation risk of deficiency.

Food sources of zinc include meat, fish, soya beans, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, onions and spinach.

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