The fruit pip which is a real health boon

Sunday 18 May, 2014 


Antioxidants... what are they good for?

Forgive me for sounding like a 1970’s pop throwback (mind you I have been called worse!) but I wanted to begin today's letter by challenging a bit of perceived wisdom.

You see antioxidants have become part of our everyday language in much the same way that fiscal policy or black holes have – we hear about them all the time but really we have only the faintest idea about what they actually are.

Go on try it - have a stab at defining what an antioxidant is, or where the concept of oxidative stress fits into health.

I can imagine many of you starting out all confident and then once you’ve got past “...combating free radicals...” you’ve begun to dry up.

I did when I was challenged about it across the breakfast table the other day by an increasingly precocious daughter who wanted to know why I was scoffing all of the Manuka honey. I began to say I needed all the antioxidants I could get and then failed in her subsequent questioning (she has learnt too much from her mother!)


Find out about the latest research results for this amazing natural fruit extract

You see, I was fully aware of the kinds of things that we class as antioxidants - the compounds that fight off free radicals, you know like vitamin C, beta-carotene and beautiful Manuka honey.

Free radicals are the group of chemicals which are formed from normal biochemical reactions in the body but can cause harm to the tissues and ultimately lead to cancers and other nasty conditions.

So far so good...

...but beyond that I found my knowledge sadly lacking.

If you want to know more, and discover some of the real benefits from boosting the levels of antioxidants in your diet – read on.

Could this be your absolute favourite anti..?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an antioxidant as: ‘An agent which inhibits oxidation.’

Which isn’t that helpful, but it does identify a really important feature of this class of chemical and the way they help us remain in a healthy state.

Before I go any further I need to put on a fawn sports jacket with leather patches on the elbows, a powder blue shirt and a ‘crrraazzzy’ purple tie... oh and suffer from excruciating halitosis.

Well that was what my chemistry teacher looked like anyway! I am going to have to remember his pearls of wisdom about atoms and electrons in order to explain what is going on in our bodies.

You see our bodies demand oxygen to allow us to burn our fuel stores efficiently, but the presence of so much oxygen in the tissues of our bodies also allows a process of oxidation to occur.

If you want to find out about the antioxidant power of grape seed extract - click here

This is when oxygen starts to grab electrons from other atoms around it to help it become a stable compound – which in the process makes the ‘robbed’ atoms become more unstable. These activated atoms then go on the hunt for other sources of electrons from weaker atoms to replace those that the oxygen nicked.

I think that was how the lesson went... unfortunately I was often staring out of the classroom window in slack-jawed boredom by this point.

Please stay with me as the good bit is coming...honest.

Think of those roaming atoms on the prowl around our bodies as being a little like thugs at a children’s party, stealing bits of cake and messing up the jelly and ice-cream. Not the sort of guests you want to entertain.

These are the free radicals.

So if you want to avoid having a bunch of electron-claiming bovver boys loitering around your delicate regions you are better off stopping them from forming in the first place and preventing their oxidation with... guessed it – an antioxidant. Ta Rah!

The damage free radicals do

Whilst it’s ok to make light of this process, the amount of damage that free radicals can do in the body is really no laughing matter:

• Inflammation of the joints (arthritis).

• Increased risk of coronary heart disease; free radicals encourage low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to adhere to artery walls.

• Deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to blindness.

• Damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.

• Acceleration of the ageing process.

• Development of certain cancers, triggered by damaged cell DNA.

A diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers.
Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals from the body cells, and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation.

The protective effect of antioxidants continues to be studied around the world.

For instance, men who eat plenty of the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes) may be less likely than other men to develop prostate cancer. Lutein, found in spinach, egg yolks and maize (sweetcorn), has been linked to a lower incidence of eye lens degeneration and associated blindness in the elderly. Flavonoids, such as the tea catechins found in good quality tea, are believed to contribute to the low rates of heart disease in Japan.

The one that particularly caught my attention though was anthocyanins and resveratrol which are found in grapes – and therefore in my mind also in wine!

I love it when an indulgence and a health fact come together – although I have found out that just a glass of wine a day with a well balanced dinner is what’s recommended rather than a nice bottle of something full bodied and red in front of the telly in the evening.

Still can’t have everything...

...although if you really want to get the full benefit of these compounds from grapes you do need to consume everything, and that includes the seeds or pips from the fruit.

So, unless you fancy munching a handful of fresh grape seeds you might like to think about a high quality grape seed extract, especially one that has the full amount of activated compound in it.

Click here to discover how a pure and natural extract of grape seed can help control arthritis and cardiovascular disease - all the facts are here, plus an exclusive offer

Yours, as always

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