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Salt, High Blood Pressure
Sugar, High Blood Pressure
Trans Fatty Acids and
High Triglycerides =
Good Fats and Harmful Fats
Free Radicals and
Food Cautions for
Fiber – A Key to Lowering
Eat more, eat less
Diet, Digestion and
Alkaline Diet to Prevent
Heart Disease and
Free Radicals and Heart Disease
We discussed antioxidant supplements in Chapter Ten. This chapter focuses on foods that protect us from free radical damage by neutralizing free radicals. If your body has a proper diet and appropriate supplements, this protects you from free radical damage. Exploring the nature of free radicals increases your awareness of the value of living a healthy life.
Since we will be discussing free radicals periodically in this book, it would be good to have a firm understanding of how they affect health.
Free radicals occur naturally in the body as the result of our normal metabolic processes. For instance, free radicals are created when we convert fat molecules into energy. Even the use of oxygen to metabolize energy from the environment creates free radicals. We need oxygen for life, however, too much is a double-edged sword. Free radicals are also created when we are exposed to radiation and cosmic rays, which stream through our universe all the time and are unavoidable. Air pollution, smoking, alcohol consumption, x-rays, radiation therapy, nitrates in processed foods, as well as a host of other consequences of modern life contribute to the creation of free radicals in your body.
Free radical atoms and molecules are missing an electron. Free radicals are ferocious because the missing electron in the outer orbit must be paired at all costs, with another electron of opposite spin. They want this electron very much.343 This intense need causes these molecules to become unstable and highly reactive with other atoms and molecules. These unstable molecules attack vulnerable molecules in human cells. This impairs the cells’ functioning in the life process.
In their desire to pair, free radicals attack the cell membranes, allowing the cytoplasm inside to leak out. This leakage also allows toxins to seep into the cell nucleus. Chemical bonds can be rearranged as the cell nucleus is attacked. The mitochondria, the energy producing factory in the cell, is affected. The DNA can be damaged – this causes a chain reaction of mutations that can lead to numerous diseases or toxic cell death. As many as 80% of all diseases and environmental toxicities can be attributed to damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are implicated in everything from degeneration (otherwise known as aging) to atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, emphysema, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression of the immune system, and the side effects of radiation.344
Many processed foods contain hydrogenated oils, which cannot be properly broken down and digested by your body. The result is free radicals and other toxins due to incomplete digestion. Thus hydrogenated oils as well as artificial ingredients lead to the production of free radicals.
Free radicals injure your blood vessels by scarring them. This can cause vessels to seep blood. Your body’s intelligence uses LDL cholesterol to patch up the injury. But the patch of cholesterol on your blood vessel wall attracts more cholesterol and this starts a destructive process called atherosclerosis. Even if a food has no cholesterol, it can cause the same result that foods laden with cholesterol are supposed to cause. So you can see the fallacy behind the concept of “a cholesterol-free food” or “no cholesterol” created by the food industry. It is imperative that you read labels, and buy organic whole foods that don’t contain these harmful ingredients.
Cholesterol is produced mainly in the liver. The less free radical damage in the blood vessels, the less is needed for repairs.
Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant potential measured in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). The top ten ORAC fruits according to the US Department of Agriculture are prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, and cherries. The top ten ORAC vegetables are garlic, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli florets, beets, red bell peppers, onions, and corn. Corn is a high starch food so the others would be better choices.
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