Harvard Heart Letter

Use food to hold off vascular damage

Color and crunch can lead to better cardiovascular health.

In terms of blood vessels, oxidation is the enemy. When oxygen combines with other molecules, the structure of these molecules is altered, and their normal function is destroyed. Oxidation produces unstable molecules, called free radicals, which contribute to the formation of atherosclerosis and promote plaque rupture and blood clots.

The good news is that antioxidants can stop the oxidation process by gobbling up free radicals. And you can obtain the benefits of antioxidants without medications, procedures, or tests. That's because antioxidants are found primarily in colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in phytonutrients.

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