To grasp the huge health benefits provided to the human body through the consumption of antioxidants, one needs to return to his or her high school chemistry classroom where the basics of atoms, neutrons, and electrons were taught.

For it’s only by returning to the molecular level of understanding, where electrically charged electrons trigger chemical reactions that bond atoms into molecules, that we can glimpse the reality of free radicals.

Scientists who know their salt are aware that free radicals, in simplistic terms, are unbalanced atoms or molecules that lack the stability afforded to them by a neutral electron/proton charge. If an electron is missing – possibly because of environmental toxins, cigarette smoke, unhealthy preservatives, or emotional stress – the result is a free radical with an electric charge.

This is not healthy.

Such free radicals eagerly seek the nearest stable molecule from which to steal an electron. This not only creates another free radical, but also launches a chain reaction.

Learning how to apply this knowledge to improve human health is a fast-growing area of modern science. More and more doctors and researchers are looking at free radicals as a cause, if not the most prominent cause of cancer and other diseases.

One stumbling block to effectively utilizing this information is that big pharmaceutical companies, though certainly trying, have yet to incorporate known data about free radicals into the manufacture of one “cure-all” pill.

And even though it may or may not be known that one of many ways to reduce exposure to free radicals is to avoid cooking animal products on high heat over charcoal, that and other ways to slow free-radical exposure simply doesn’t fit with our lifestyle.

Give us a pill instead.

In moderate amounts, free radicals help neutralize toxins, destroy waste products, and protect tissue from harmful microorganisms, but in the long haul they ain’t good.

Nature has given man a wonderful antidote to free radicals in the form of antioxidants. Antioxidants are unique in nature because they have the ability to neutralize free radicals by donating an electron to a free radical without losing their polar stability.

This stops the chain reaction.

Antioxidants readily are available to humans through the consumption of certain types of food.

Unfortunately, those foods high in antioxidants are not Big Macs, pepperoni pizzas, strawberry ice cream, or even spaghetti and meatballs.

Horror of horrors, they often are delivered in high amounts through fruits and vegetables. For fruits we might be talking pome-granates, grapefruit, and plums. Vegetables, among other choices, would include kale, chili pepper, and red cabbage.

And yet there’s light at the end of the tunnel: at least sort of.

To those who don’t already know it, one of the most popular food groups ever – chocolate – is extremely high in antioxidants. This would be a par excellent situation for chocoholics and others who dabble in culinary pleasures were not man’s propensity for exploitation to rise to the surface.

You see, almost all those great-tasting chocolate bars a k a “candy bars” many of us eat and enjoy on a regular basis are processed at high temperatures that literally cook out a large percentage of the antioxidants inherent in harvested cacao.

The good news is that a chocolate manufacturing company has developed and patented a way to cold press chocolate, and in the process possibly maintain the inherent healthy benefits that pleased the Mayans centuries and centuries ago.

Unfortunately, the company with the patent to cold press chocolate has more interest in forming an online tier company and making money than neutralizing free radicals.

Jabberwock II columnist Rocky Wilson is a reporter for the Chieftain.

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