The mapping of the roles of antioxidants is one of the main subjects of medical research at this time. They include the fight against ageing, the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, nerve diseases, cataracts and problems induced by physical effort.
Antioxidants help the body fight the destructive effects of free radicals (more properly known as “oxygen- reactive species”), which are unstable substances derived from oxygen that are being produced by the body all the time. The production of free radicals is increased during inflammation, stimulation of the immune system and exposure to toxins.
Antioxidants protect the cell membranes and nucleus against free radicals, which bombard them without penetrating them.
The body has a large force to defend itself against these attacks, armed with enzyme mechanisms (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase) and endogenous and dietary antioxidant substances. The disruption of this natural defence system leads to oxidative stress.
Antioxidants (vitamin, colorant, enzyme) are found in various fruits (lemon, orange, melon, tomato, grape), cereals, green tea leaves and red wine. The most commonly used antioxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoid pigments, taurine and polyphenols.