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Antioxidants: Value and Danger of Various Food Components

Our bodies are constantly exposed to "free radicals," or highly reactive molecules that can damage the body and are associated with degenerative diseases.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in substances known as phytochemicals, some of which act as antioxidants, protecting us against free radicals. Many phytochemicals in our foods have not yet been identified. This is a powerful argument for the use of whole foods rather than supplements. Another argument for this is that fruits and vegetables absorb more free radicals than isolated free-radical-scavenging vitamins, such as C and E. For example, 3/4 cup of cooked kale can neutralize as many free radicals as 500 mg of vitamin C, or 800 IU of vitamin E, even though kale contains only 40 mg of vitamin C and less than 10 IU of vitamin E.

Other important phytochemicals occur in rice, tea, and spices. Cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, contain phytochemicals that seem to be protective against cancer. Some phytochemicals also appear to be helpful for minor illnesses, such as colds.

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.

 


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