The Healing Power of Food. The Healing Power Of Food (Antioxidants).
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Back in 400 B.C., the Greek physician Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Today, good nutrition is more important than ever. At least four of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) are directly related to way we eat.
Recent research has shown a significant relationship between antioxidants and disease (mainly cancer) prevention.
Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer.
In humans, the most common form of free radicals is oxygen. When an oxygen molecule (O2) becomes electronically 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.
Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radical molecules and may prevent some of the damage free radicals otherwise might cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, and other substances.
Considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer (the number 2 cause of death in the U.S.).
Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains, some meats (liver—vitamin A), poultry and fish.
Beta-carotene, an antioxidant, is found in many foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos. Some green leafy vegetables including collard greens, and spinach are also rich in beta-carotene.
Lutein, best known for its association with healthy eyes, is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.
Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, and other foods. Estimates suggest 85 percent of American dietary intake of lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products.