Prevention of oxidative stress and free radical damage to DNA is an area that science has been studying. One of the most harmful free radicals that exist in the human body is the ‘hydroxyl radical’. Left unattended this radical seeks and destroys cell tissue and molecules. It’s running through our bodies and ping ponging everywhere out of control. The dangers of this free radical poses a direct threat to the way we age and age related disease. Antioxidants help to combat and minimize damage done by free radicals by giving our bodies the defense it requires as we age.
One flavanol compound and a strong antioxidant is the polyphenol which inhibits damage to DNA by binding to iron. Confirmation of this antioxidant through tests and studies has shown positive evidence to combat one of the most dangerous free radicals we have in the body. Polyphenols can be found in fruits and plant-derived beverages such as fruit juices, tea, coffee, red wine vegetables, cereals, chocolate, Acai and Macqui Berries as well as dry legumes. Fruits and vegetables that are dark in color like Eggplant and red grapes have higher amounts of polyphenols. The problem is getting as many as you can every day sometimes isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
There is strong evidence that polyphenols aid to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and osteoporosis. Some studies even suggest that it may play a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes. In studies done particularly to chocolate the polyphenol compound was found to be the strongest so long as the cacao bean was not heated in any way. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry notes, “The levels of epicatechin and catechin were determined in raw and conventionally fermented cacao beans and during conventional processing, which included drying, roasting, and Dutch (alkali) processing. Unripe cacao beans had 29% higher levels of epicatechin and the same level of catechin compared to fully ripe beans. Drying had minimal effect on the epicatechin and catechin levels. Substantial decreases (>80%) in catechin and epicatechin levels were observed in fermented versus unfermented beans.”
Today most commercialized chocolate has been heated and processed in some way thus destroying these beneficial polyphenols. Contrary to what some may believe, not all chocolate is created equal. Going to your local store and buying a dark chocolate or a chocolate that touts the percentage of cacao is not going to give you the exceptional benefits like a raw organic healthy dark chocolate. When you heat vegetables you are killing the nutrients and the same goes for fruit, therefore, consuming raw provides your body with what nature intended and gives it the tools it’s need to combat hydroxyl radicals with polyphenol antioxidants.
Antioxidants and Beyond