Antioxidants are substance that protect the cells of the body by getting damaged by free radicals.
Free radicals such as hydrogen peroxide and singlet oxygen are highly reactive atoms or groups of atoms that are byproducts of the normal metabolic activities of cells.
They serve a useful purpose in the body because they are able to help kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. But in excess, they injure cells, they oxidize proteins and lipids that are inside the cell and damage the nucleus.
Free radicals are believed to contribute to such disorders as cancer, heart disease and many conditions associated with aging. The lists of known antioxidants include some vitamins such as Vitamin E (tocophenol), Vitamin C (abscorbic acid), Vitamin A (retinol and cartenoids), a variety of minerals like zinc, iron, copper, manganese, selenium and thousands of phytochemicals (plant chemicals).
Recently a couple of studies have known hat antioxidants may interfere with the action of drugs that are used to improve cholesterol levels.
Although the body probably needs some amount of antioxidants to get rid of excess freed radicals, they need not be taken in the form of food supplements because they are present in varying quantities in the food we eat.
Fruits and vegetables in particular, are rich in phytochemical contents are excellent source of antioxidants. People whose regular diet includes adequate amount of fruits and vegetables have lower incidences of heart disease, cancers and cataract.