The Food and Nutrition Board of the US National Research Council defines a dietary antioxidant as “a substance in foods which significantly decreases the adverse effects of reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, or both on normal physiological function in humans.”
The role of Antioxidants in a nutshell:
• Antioxidant enzymes naturally occur in our bodies and are also found in the healthy foods that we eat.
• The role of antioxidants is to protect body tissues and cells and neutralize the effects of toxins known as free oxygen radicals (the aforementioned “reactive oxygen” and “reactive nitrogen” species).
• Free radicals are a by-product of the body’s natural metabolic processes (called oxidization) and can occur as a result of certain stresses on the body.
• If there are more free radicals than antioxidants in a person’s system, body cells and tissues are prone to becoming damaged and diseased.
The benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet:
• A healthy level of antioxidants can decrease and repair the damage caused by free-radicals.
• Research has shown that diets rich in antioxidant foods are associated with lower risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.(Source: World Health Organization: VITAMIN AND MINERAL REQUIREMENTS IN HUMAN NUTRITION)