USDA research indicates that the best antioxidants come not in a pill, but in fresh vegetables and fruits. Blueberries, blackberries, kale and spinach are among the top providers.
Natural antioxidants have been found to help fight off alzheimers, cancer, heart disease and stroke. They can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, or age-related blindness, by 25%, as reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology.
In essence, the antioxidants in your blood track down "free radicals", a natural byproduct of metabolism, which your body normally handles on its own. As your body ages, it has more and more trouble dealing with the free radicals. If left loose in your blood, the free radicals begin damaging cell DNA and causing a myriad of health issues.
The researchers gave their study members a diet high in fruits and vegetables - ten servings a day. They found that after only two weeks, the blood of the study members had increased its ability to handle free radicals.
A similar study by the John Hopkins institute in Maryland found the same results, using 8 to 10 servings of vegetables a day.
While pharmacies were quick to pump out a pill form of the antioxidants when research first began on vitamins C and E, subsequent studies have shown that eating the natural foods provide far more health benefits than eating a pill form. Researchers theorize that the pills do not necessarily have all of the key components provided by the vegetables. Research done by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation on 220,000 people in various heart studies found that taking Vitamin E pills provided no heart-related benefits at all.
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