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SALT LAKE CITY — Blueberries. Açai berries. Tea and coffee. Tomatoes. Nuts. All of these food and beverages are rich in healthy antioxidants, and a slew of advertisements and articles tout them as such. The only problem is that most Americans don't know what antioxidants or their health benefits are, according to a new study.
The nutritional products company MonaVie released results of a survey Thursday showing that 92% of respondents could not accurately describe what an antioxidant is, and 91% could not recognize one or more foods rich in antioxidants, even though 75% say they actively try to eat such foods. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research.
Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which themselves are molecules that can damage living cells and result from oxidation, a process that occurs when people digest food, exercise or breath. Living in environments with pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides also increase free radical production. Increased free radicals in the body increase the chances of illness and premature aging.
"Research links over 100 diseases to a high free radical and low antioxidant count, yet people don't know they can take a proactive stance against this risk," MonaVie spokesman and author of the book Body Confidence Mark Macdonald said. "Based not he standard level of nutrients an average person requires, a large portion of the population is not consuming enough antioxidant-rich foods."