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Arklatex In Depth:The real health benefits of antioxidants - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arklatex In Depth:The real health benefits of antioxidants

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

It's one of the biggest health buzz words.

Antioxidants have built up a huge fan base, but can they really build up your body?

Some dietitians swear by them and some health food companies are getting rich off of them. They tout the anti-aging health benefits of "superfoods" chock full of antioxidants.

But what exactly is an antioxidant?

According to scientists, antioxidants neutralize particles called free radicals and prevent them from potentially damaging or killing the cells of your body, hence the opinion that slow down aging and prevent cancer.

Antioxidants also produce much needed enzymes in the body.

Medical researchers, like Dr. Yunfeng Zhao with LSU Health Shreveport, have spent years studying antioxidants and their effects on the human body. Yet still much has yet to be discovered through clinical trials about their real health benefits.

"Most of the antioxidant trials fail. There could be a number of reasons for this. One reason could be that what we eat is healthy enough," said Zhao.

Healthy enough meaning the food we eat contains all the antioxidants we need to thrive.

Registered dietitian Kim Donahue said there is no need to purchase expensive superfoods like acai berries. You can get the same health results by eating typical produce from your local grocer.

"When you think about antioxidants you want to think about vibrant colors, like kale and spinach. If you eat an array of colors, you're going to get all the antioxidants you need. Basically you need to taste the rainbow," said Donahue.

To find out if you're eating enough antioxidant rich food, local health food store Sunshine Health Foods installed a biophotonic scanner sold by Nu Skin. It's a skin care company based out of Provo, Utah.

The scanner is non-invasive. Just put your hand up against a blue light for 90 seconds and it will read your antioxidant level. Wait a few minutes and your results come in with a score.

Health reporter Jessica Crandall tried it and got a C- score of 31,000. Most people score a D or F.

Donahue said to boost antioxidant levels, don't necessarily reach for a bottle of supplements.

"There's a lot of different things in food and they all work together in a good way. Some antioxidant supplements like vitamins A and E can build up to harmful levels, so it's just better to get it naturally through your diet," said Donahue.

The antioxidant test at Sunshine Health Foods costs $10.

The biophotonic scanner is said to test the level of beta carotene in the skin and through that it extracts information about your antioxidant levels. The machine was featured on Dr. Oz.


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