We hear the terms “antioxidants” and “free radicals” pretty often. But just what do they mean to our health?
A free radical is a molecule that can bind to and damage a part of the body. Free radical or “oxidative” damage is what makes us age. Free radicals have also been shown to be responsible for the onset of many diseases including the two biggest effecting mortality —heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent this free radical damage. Antioxidant nutrients, such as beta-carotene, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin C, have been shown to help protect against conditions that have been linked to free radicals—basically all chronic degenerative diseases.
Studies show that it is a combination of antioxidants which provide greater protection than large dosages of any single antioxidant. And getting optimal protection requires plant-based antioxidants, which work in conjunction with nutrient antioxidants.
So not only is it important to eat a diet rich in colorful plant foods and take a high potency multivitamin/mineral supplement, but to also add in some form of plant based antioxidant which contain flavonoids.
Flavonoids are plant pigments that are more potent and effective against a broader range of free radicals than antioxidant nutrients. Besides lending color to fruits and flowers, flavonoids are responsible for their anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, antiviral, and anticancer properties.
Here is where it could be beneficial to add in some important plant extracts to protect your health:
Bilberry extract– protects the eyes.
Hawthorn extract – for heart disease or high blood pressure.
Ginkgo biloba extract – Protects the brain and vascular lining, especially for those over 50 years old.
Grape seed extract or pine bark extract – Systemic antioxidant and best choice for most people under age 50. Also specific for the lungs, diabetes, varicose veins, and protection against heart disease.
Green tea extract – May provide good protection against cancer, and is a great choice if there is a family history of cancer. Also helps protect against cholesterol damage.
Milk thistle extract – Good for additional antioxidant protection of liver or skin.