There has been much talk in the past decade or so regarding the power of antioxidants. Recent research has validated the hype, showing that antioxidant defenses may play an important role in helping the body combat diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Active oxygen and free radicals are constantly formed in the human body by normal metabolic function. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) also scavenge the body and damage cells. When atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons are formed, and oxygen interacts with certain molecules, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, which can result in apoptosis, or cell death. ROS, RNS and free radicals are opposed by a balanced system of antioxidant defenses, which include antioxidant compounds and enzymes. Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, and ROS and RNS.
A study out of Southern Yangtze University in China set out to study the antioxidant levels in guava leaves. Guava leaf extracts have been found to contain a wide range of phenolic compounds which may act as antioxidants. The analysis showed that guava leaf contained significant amounts of natural phenolic compounds known to act as antioxidants: tannic acid, procatechuic acid, caffeic anid, ferulic acid, rutin trihydrate, and quercetin dehydrate. They concluded that “guava leaf extracts showed potential antioxidant activity” and that “Increased intake of guava leaf extracts is therefore good for our health (He 683).
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- Heim et al. “Flavonoid antioxidants: chemistry, metabolism and structure-activity relationships,” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 13 (2002) 572-584.