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Saturday, June 5, 2010


Free radicals may lead to heart disease by oxidizing low-density lipoprotein (LDL); the so-called bad cholesterol. Free radicals have one or more unpaired electrons and they steal electrons from essential biochemical in our body to neutralize itself. By this process, bigger free radicals are formed and they continue to steal electrons causing the formation of bad cholesterol in the body. Hypertension is one of the main causes of heart disease. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition in which constricted arterial blood vessels increase the resistance to blood flow; causing the blood to exert excessive pressure against vessel walls. Researchers now believe that only the oxidized form of LDL cholesterol leads to hardening of the arteries, a condition that can ultimately lead to heart disease. Free radicals have also been implicated in cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye that can lead to blindness (Stevens 2002). Food produces free radicals when metabolized and virtually all studies of mammals have concluded that a restricted calorie diet extends the lifespan of mammals by as much as 100%. This remarkable finding suggest that the food is actually more damaging than smoking which takes on average 25% of a person’s lifespan (Stevens 2002).

There are several ways to control this disease-causing oxidants. One of these is by consuming antioxidant-rich foods including pomegranate. An antioxidant is a chemical that prevents the oxidation of other chemicals. In biological systems, the normal process of oxidation and a minor contribution from ionizing radiation produce highly reactive free radicals. These can readily react with and damage other molecules. In some cases, the body uses this to fight infection. In other cases, the damage may be to the body’s own cells. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells against damaging effects of reactive oxygen species, such as singlet oxygen, superoxide, peroxyl radicals, hydroxyl radicals and peroxynitrine. An imbalance between antioxidants and reactive oxygen species results in oxidative stress, leading to cellular damage (Gil 2000).

Many dark berries, including Punica granatum (pomegranate) have high concentrations of antioxidants, as do some types of tea, especially green tea. Pomegranate is a small tree of thorny shrub in the Puniceae family. The only genus is native to tropical Asia and is characterized by large solitary flowers with numerous stamens and pistils. The fruit is about the size of a large orange and is filled with seeds. The fleshy outer seed coats of which consist of a sweet acid, edible, orange-red pulp. The astringent rind is used in medicine and in tanning. Dark orange, red, and green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants, molecules that neutralize the action of harmful chemicals known s free radicals. Some preliminary studies suggest that antioxidants may prevent some forms of cancer. Because of the bad effects of antioxidants in our body, it is necessary to consume foods that contain substances that exhibit antioxidant property to combat diseases such as hypertension and cancer.


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