You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants lately: in the newspaper, in magazines, and on T.V. While many supplements and nutrients have been talked about for as long as you can probably remember, antioxidants are a more recent topic. Don’t let this fool you into thinking they’re any less important. Antioxidants are a vital part of staying young and healthy. But why are they so important?

First of all, we need to know what an antioxidant is. During normal processes, molecules called free radicals are produced in the body. These are basically unstable atoms or molecules that desperately want to become stable. They do this by stealing electrons from healthy cells, making them unstable and less healthy. Antioxidants reverse this reaction, helping to keep the cells of our body healthy and functioning properly.

One of the most talked about effects of antioxidants is their anti aging properties. As we age, we constantly copy our cells to replace them when they die. Errors in copying occur and build up to form the aging process. Free radicals can also interfere and have been shown to promote wrinkles, memory problems, weakness of the immune system, and reduced elasticity of tissue; all of which are associated with the aging process. We can?t completely stop aging, but proper amounts of antioxidants can slow the process considerably.

Damage caused by these free radicals is also considered to be a cause of certain cancers. Getting more antioxidants can reduce our risk for certain types of cancer, including cancer of the stomach, prostate, colon, breast, bladder esophagus, pancreas, and possibly many more. Besides cancer, antioxidants have been shown to help prevent other serious problems, such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer?s, Parkinson?s and vision problems. It is likely that antioxidants can help prevent other diseases and disorders, but their full effects simply haven?t been studied yet.

Antioxidants prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol. When this type of cholesterol oxidizes, it can attach to the walls of blood vessels causing heart disease. This increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Oxidized cholesterol also contributes to the hardening of blood vessel walls increasing the risk of high blood pressure. Antioxidants can help keep your heart and the rest of your circulatory system healthy.

Another great benefit of antioxidants is that they help boost the immune system. If you get sufficient levels of antioxidants, you?re not only less likely to get sick; it?s also easier for you to fight off diseases you may get. Along these lines, antioxidants can also help you heal faster when you have an injury; large or small.

So what are you waiting for? Today is the best day to start eating right to get more of these wonderfully healthy antioxidants.