Benefits of Antioxidants
"Activin is a powerful inhibitor of free radical induced lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation," Bagchi further explained. "This is significant because free radicals can destroy cell membranes and damage DNA, and may be a root cause of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and even the aging process itself.
Worse, beta-carotene antioxidant supplements and pills seemed to increase rates of cancer for smokers in two large trials. And so, studies began to look towards other sources of antioxidants as possible antioxidant supplements. Vitamins C and E were the next contenders but again, studies showed mixed results.
Antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase prevent oxidation by reducing the rate of chain initiation. This time, instead of waiting for the free radicals to make a long chain of free radicals, antioxidants scavenge initiating radicals and destroy them before oxidation is set in motion.
They have also been implicated in certain cell signaling processes. The two most important oxygen-centered free radicals are superoxide and hydroxyl radical. They are derived from molecular oxygen under reducing conditions, such as when a person breathes. However, because of their high reactivity, free radicals often participate in unwanted side reactions resulting in cell damage.
The Top 20 list of antioxidants published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows the ranks of the capacity of berry foods, fruits, and vegetables to interfere with or prevent oxidative processes where free radicals are formed. Ronald L. Prior, a USDA nutritionist and research chemist based in Little Rock, Ark explains that berry antioxidants were ranked according to their total antioxidant capacity.
Countless studies have been devoted to determining the extent of the health benefits super antioxidants may have. Super antioxidants have been the subject of various cancer research studies and even research on how to reverse aging. And though for the most part, the findings are inconsistent only as far as super antioxidant supplements are concerned, the old saying still stands: An apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away.