Antioxidants defend human body cells by neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals, a byproduct of cell metabolism. Free radicals form when oxygen is metabolized, or burned, by the body. Free radicals disrupt the structure of other molecules, causing cellular damage.
This cell damage is believed to contribute to aging and various health problems. Some well-known antioxidants include compounds normally present in food such as Vitamin E, beta-carotene, the carotenoids, Vitamin C, zinc, and selenium. Antioxidants retard oxidation and are sometimes added to meat and poultry products to prevent or slow oxidative rancidity of fats that cause browning.
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