Oxygen is necessary for important body functions like respiration and metabolism, but when oxygen reacts with some body tissues, it creates harmful free radicals. These unstable molecules steal electrons from other molecules, which can result in tissue damage. An overabundance of free radicals has been associated with a number of health problems including heart disease. Fortunately, potent antioxidants like vitamin C and resveratrol help neutralize free radicals and keep body tissues healthy. Learning more about antioxidants and heart health may result in a few new additions to the grocery cart and a healthier body.
Vitamin C offers a number of benefits to heart health. The powerful antioxidant helps keep blood pressure under control and is linked to lower levels of lipoproteins associated with stroke. By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, and contributes to lower cholesterol by helping to repair damaged arterial walls.
Studies on antioxidants and heart health show excellent results for vitamin C. One study found that men who consume at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lower chances of dying from heart disease by 40 percent.
Certain foods like red grapes contain a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Experts suggest that it may help reduce chances for heart disease by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or what many people refer to as "bad" cholesterol. A review study published in Cardiovascular Drug Review links regular consumption of resveratrol to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, healthier blood vessels, and fewer blood clots in animals, but more human studies are needed.
When it comes to antioxidants and heart health, two in particular appear to offer preventative benefits: vitamin C and resveratrol. People can obtain vitamin C from dietary supplements or from fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, cantaloupe, pomegranates, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. In addition to red grapes, other foods that contain resveratrol include blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts. People can also get daily doses of resveratrol through dietary supplements.