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These are atoms or molecules that are formed during food metabolism, or by pollutants, smoking and radiation, and are electronically unbalanced.Pollutants, smoking and radiation, and are electronically unbalanced.
In stable molecules, electrons come in pairs, but free radicals have unpaired electrons - either one is missing or there is an extra one - and to restabilise themselves they grab an electron from another molecule. In this way, another free radical is created and a destructive chain reaction is begun or continued.
Free radicals, unless or until they are neutralised, damage various body cells. For instance, they can distort the DNA genetic blueprint, thus causing many of the degenerative diseases of aging - such as heart disease, cancer and stokes. They also attack blood vessels, producing blood clots and atherosclerosis, and they can damage brain cells, creating memory loss and senility.
Antioxidants serve as free radical scavengers, neutralising and defending the body from their oxidative damage.
Free radicals are also neutralised by antioxidant nutrients such as the vitamins A, C, E, B1, B5, B6, Niacin and PABA, The amino acid Cysteine (found in eggs), minerals Zinc and Selenium, Catechols (found in bananas and potatoes), phenolics (found in grapes and other fruits), Quercetin (found in onion and garlic), Rutin (found in buckwheat) and Hesperidin (found in citrus rind).
Other food high in natural antioxidants include wheat grass, berries and dark green vegetables. See "Antioxidants"; "PABA"