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IT HAPPENS about 10 000 times a day to every cell in the human body.
Oxidants—the by-products of human metabolism—deliver damaging blows to the cells' DNA. Repair enzymes cut out much of the damage, but eventually time takes its toll. Oxidative attacks on the cells' DNA outpace the ability of enzymes to remove lesions. The cumulative damage is believed to be a major factor in the development of certain cancers and other aging-related illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease.
But in recent years, scientists have pointed to the disease prevention potential of antioxidant properties found in certain nutrients, most notably vitamins C and E and beta carotene. As a result, fruits and vegetables that contain these compounds have taken a prominent place in contemporary recommendations to promote good health and prevent disease.
"This is what mothers have known all along," says Bruce Ames, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and
Voelker R. Ames Agrees With Mom's Advice: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables. JAMA. 1995;273(14):1077-1078. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380013005