Friday, May 29, 2009

What is an Antioxidant?

By Collin James

By now you've heard about the green tea's antioxidant abilities, and how the quality of this antioxidant helps fight against dangerous diseases like cancer and heart disease. But what is an antioxidant? And why would anything that's anti-oxygen be good for you or for your bodies health?

Antioxidants do not do anything to oxygen. Antioxidants fight a chemical reaction called oxidation. This is the same process that causes metals to rust. Oxidation is the mingling between oxygen molecules and what they come in contact with. If it is living tissue where this occurs then that's when damage of disease occurs.

Free Radicals with in your body are highly unstable molecules that travel around your body causing nothing but major problems. Free radicals are generated by exposure to UV rays, toxins,smoking and other sources. The major source of the free radicals is from the oxygen molecule its self.

Paired together, oxygen travels through out your body and each molecule has its own electron. Often what happens is this double molecule splits into two half's which leaves one molecule with out and electron to go with it. Feeling of balanced, the single molecule races around your body trying to repair itself and find a new electron to pair up with.

The molecule does not just wait for a spare electron to pop up, but what it does is it steals one from another molecule. The problem keeps reoccurring over and over again. The process is what causes cells to be damaged, and the entire body system gets effected by it. This is believed to be the major cause of cancer, heart disease and aging.

What antioxidants do is fight against this constant stealing of electrons. Your inner body police, is the best way to look at it. How they work is they donate electrons to the free radicals so the urge to steel is gone. You body does produce a certain amount of antioxidants, but not nearly enough!

Among others, these include beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, the mineral selenium, and various phytochemicals such as lycopene and quercetin. But the catechins, especially EGCg, are among the most powerful and effective antioxidants of all.

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