Antioxidants have a vital role to play in the prevention of disease and
mopping up of free radicals. As part of normal oxygen metabolism natural
but highly reactive free radicals are produced in the body. Free
radicals cause damage to proteins, carbohydrates, DNA, cell membrane
structures and other components within the cell resulting in cellular
dysfunction. They are implicated in the development of many chronic
diseases including diabetes, cervical cancer and aging .
The body's own natural defences against free radicals include specific enzymes, free radical scavengers, vitamins (C and E) and carotenoids. Disease is thought to occur when the rate at which free radicals are produced is greater than the rate at which they are removed. These natural defences are found in different types of foods examples of which are:
Phytonutrients or Phytochemicals
These are disease-preventing compounds found in fruit and vegetables.
are classed according to their protective function. For example,
carotenoids are thought to protect against certain cancers and
flavonoids are thought to be anti-inflammatory.