Sources of antioxidant products and disease prevention

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GOD, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom, created man with certain capabilities such as the inborn immune system. Ordinarily, the immune system, performing optimally, has the ability to wipe out any disease, including cancer. 

  Unfortunately, it is not always so and man is frequently attacked and afflicted with all kinds of diseases. The major reason why the immune system fails to protect man from diseases is our diet. The vitamins, minerals and enzymes that make up the immune system (antioxidant defence systems) which should be found abundantly in our diet are frequently destroyed by the method of preparation – cooking and over-cooking at very high temperatures. 

  The vitamins, enzymes and nutrients in the food are destroyed by such heat with the result that those things that should replenish and enhance the immune system are in very short supply in the body. 

  These things are the vitamins, minerals and enzymes (protein compounds) which occur naturally in raw foods such as vegetables, friuts, whole grains, nuts and seeds. For maximum supply of these products, the food should be eaten raw. 

  However, there are a few other sources of these antioxidants from animal sources such as red meat, organ meat, dairy products, fish, seafoods etc. It is inevitable that such food sources should be cooked, but over-cooking them has to be avoided.

  In this article this week, I intend to present the common antioxidants and their sources to help to improve our diet. No matter how little, I believe that including these raw foods in your diet will bring about a lot more positive changes in your life. 

  Not only that, as you begin to see these changes, you will be encouraged to do more. Doing more will definitely lead to prevention of those diseases that are caused by free radical induced oxidative stress.

  Sources of common antioxidants and mineral co-factors

1. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Sources: Citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, pawpaw and mangoes. Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Red and green peppers also contain vitamin c.

2. Vitamin E

Sources: Leafy green vegetables. Nuts such as hazel nuts and almonds. Canola and sunflower vegetable oils also contain Vitamin E.

Vitamin A

Sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and cod liver oil.

The antioxidant enzyme defence system

  The enzymes that make up this defence system are superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase. These enzymes are usually produced in the body and because they are proteins, amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins are essential in their production. 

  Significantly, are the trace elements which act as co-factors in the  chemical reactions catalyzed by the enzymes. These trace minerals are copper, zinc and magnesium for superoxide dismutase, selenium for glutathione peroxidase and iron for catalase. These co-factors are also limiting factors for the completion and rate of the chemical reactions. 

  In other words, in the absence of these co-factors, the chemical reactions catalyzed by the different enzymes will be hindered. These are reactions that seek to either neutralize free radicals or transform them into less harmful or harmless elements or compounds. If these minerals are deficient, there will be accumulation of free radicals and wide spread destruction of tissues of the body by oxidative stress.

Sources of trace minerals

Copper

Sources: Cocoa, whole grains, wheat bran, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts. Others are seafoods and organ meat.

Zinc

Sources: Oysters, red meat, groundnuts, almonds, chickpeas, dairy products, such as milk and cheese.

Magnesium

Sources: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, avocadoes, bananas, black eyed Peas, lima beans and soybeans.

Iron

Sources: Leafy green vegetables, soy foods, meat, chicken, eggs and beans.

Selenium

Sources: Tuna, shrimps, salmon, sardines, cod, chicken, turkey, asparagus, barley and brown rice. Other sources are flaxseed, spinach, cabbage, garlic and broccoli. 

Leafy green vegetables

I have made mention of the leafy green vegetables above and here are some of such vegetables:

  Romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli and collard greens. Others in this group are turnip greens, water cress, dandelion and chickweed.

  These vegetables and more are packed full with vitamins and mineral antioxidants. There are other minerals in them together with chlorophyll that alkalizes the system and fibre that keeps the colon in perfect health all the time. The leafy green vegetables can be eaten raw in salads, steamed or lightly boiled and for optimal health, these should be eaten as often as daily.



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