TELLURIDE – The emphasis today is on feeling younger, staying fitter, aging slower. The idea of what we eat being as important as the medicine we take, drives today's scientists to study the healthful properties of foods and beverages. Research suggests the most valuable elements in healthy foods are antioxidants, often advertised on packages in the health food isle. They’re the latest rage, but what are they and why are they so beneficial?
This Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 6 to 7:15 p.m. in the Palm Theatre, University of Utah Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Cynthia Burrows, will speak on the science of antioxidants. Her presentation, “Wine, Chocolate and DNA: The Chemistry of Free Radicals and Antioxidants,” is the fifth and final Pinhead Town Talk of the summer. Funded by the Telluride Science Research Center in collaboration with Pinhead Institute, this event free to the public.
“People talk about antioxidants all the time,” says Burrows. “My aim is to educate the public to discern the difference between the hype and the science.”
Perhaps this hype is valid. Research has shown that antioxidants directly combat the impacts of free radicals – molecules that get into our bodies and damage our cells and DNA. If you breathe, eat, and live anywhere but in a bubble, free radicals invade our bodies and do harm. This damage can lead to cell mutation, cancer, and other life threatening conditions. With scientific research suggesting that antioxidants can prevent this damage, it’s no wonder so many people have turned to them as a “miracle cure.”
Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods and other components of our diet. A high concentration of one form of these beneficial compounds (phenols) is found in products like açaí berries, chocolate, and red wine. Another form of antioxidant (thiols) is found more often in commonly cooked vegetables such as garlic, broccoli, and asparagus. Consuming modest amounts of antioxidant containing foods can help deter free radicals and reduce DNA and cell damage.
Donations for Burrow’s presentation are encouraged.
– By Philip Straub, TSRC Communications Intern