Many people have heard that antioxidants seem to be the cure for everything, but are they really? Can antioxidants actually help fight heart disease, for example? Antioxidants can be found in many minerals, vitamins, and types of food, and they are mainly used by our bodies to fight off free radicals. Free radicals cause damage to the cells in our bodies, leading to break downs in how our bodies work. This damage can lead to heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
When it comes to antioxidants, studies are somewhat contradictory. Antioxidants from Vitamin E supplements , for example, don’t seem to have any affect on decreasing the chances of stroke, heart disease, or other heart problems. While the supplement may contain antioxidants, they don’t seem to help.
Antioxidants are also available from beta carotene supplements , but doctors agree excessive amounts of beta carotene should be avoided. It can actually cause an increase in heart disease and other cardiovascular issues! So mega dosing as a way to put anti oxidants into your system is probably not a good idea.
The main benefit, then, comes from eating foods rich in antioxidants. While supplements don’t help, foods like vegetables, whole grains, and fruits that contain antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. To help lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, then, you may need to modify your diet to include many of these foods and not rely on dietary supplements as much. This seems like a case when natural antioxidants offer the most promise. Another natural antioxidant is L-glutathione which is manufactured in the body and is also not a great candidate to be replaced with a supplement. It seems that it’s just not all that well absorbed as an oral supplement.
It’s also a very good idea to stop smoking. (Hardly much of a news flash, is it?) Smoking has been linked to the production of free radicals. Since one of the ways of preventing heart disease is to lower the amount of free radicals in your body, stopping smoking is very important. By smoking, you only increase the amount of antioxidants you need, and if you’re already not eating as much fruit or vegetable servings as you should be, you may not be able to get enough antioxidants to help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. It’s also helpful to watch your blood pressure, eat foods high in fiber and other nutrients, and exercise regularly.