Food Truth

free radicals, trans fatty acids, and antioxidants

Stephanie Bonilla, NC: sbonilla08@gmail.com

Free Radicals

A Free Radical is an especially reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons. Free radicals can come from many sources , such as, air pollution, UV lights, cigarette smoke, and pesticides. They are harmful to the body and are known to damage cells and accelerate the progression of cancer,cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.
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Trans Fatty Acid

What is a Trans Fatty Acid ?

It is an unsaturated fatty acid formed by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil. Otherwise known as "trans fat", it is believed to raise blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Trans fat can be found in baked goods, margarine, shortening, and in a very popular cooking oil named, "Canola Oil". It is very common to see restaurants using Canola Oil because it is not expensive and is very accessible. Some other foods that contain trans fat are donuts, french fries, potato chips, and fast food.

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Antioxidants !

Antioxidants prevent the oxidation of other molecules in the body. They benefit the body by neutralizing and removing free radicals from the bloodstream. The body naturally produces free radicals and antioxidants, but unfortunately free radicals outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants. That's why it's important to get an external supply of antioxidants continuously. We can easily find antioxidants in foods like acai, blueberries, kale, nuts, and even dark chocolate !

In addition, we can find antioxidants in foods containing Vitamin C and E. A few foods containing Vitamin C are Kiwis, Oranges, and Kale, and those containing Vitamin E are Avocado, Parsley, and Almonds.

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Antioxidant Minerals & Phytonutrients

A couple of vital Antioxidant Minerals are Zinc and Selenium.

*Zinc rich foods include: oysters, lamb, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and cabbage.

*Selenium rich foods include: brazil nuts, Fish (tuna), lima beans, and shiitake mushrooms.


A couple of Antioxidant Phytonutrients include Flavonoids and Carotenoids.

*Flavonoids are most famous for their rich diversity of color-providing pigments, such as the rich reds of strawberries and deep blues of blueberries. The best sources of flavonoids include onions, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and cranberries.

*Carotenoids are the colorful plant pigments which the body can turn into vitamin A. Bright-orange beta-carotene is the most important carotenoid for adequate vitamin A. Some foods rich in Carotenoids includes carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, red peppers, and cantaloupe. These vital foods can be very helpful for fighting off diseases and building strong eyesight.

Resources:

Bauman, E. (2011). Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

"Benefits of Antioxidants". http://www.nutrex-hawaii.com/benefits-of-antioxidants.