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AC Nielsen reports big trends in health for 2006 - Antioxidants

A special class of vitamins and minerals known as antioxidants- long a staple of the Atkins Advantage- are set to hit the mainstream in a big way, according to consumer tracker AC Nielsen. "Spending on antioxidants …. was estimated to be among the highest of all health-elated categories in terms of year-over-year growth," said their latest study.

If you've ever wondered what "antioxidants" are, do this demonstration at home: cut up an apple, then leave it out in the air. The reason it turns brown is a process called oxidation, which is basically damage done to the surface of the apple by interaction with molecules of oxygen, particularly rogue molecules called free radicals. The same thing happens when iron rusts. And the same thing happens inside your body, where oxidation does serious damage.

Enter anti-oxidants. They're a special category of vitamins and minerals that mop up those rogue molecules which have the potential to cause extensive cell damage and are believed to play a role in heart disease, cancer and many other health problems. The oxidizing free radicals circulate in your body aging your skin and causing potential damage to your DNA by the same mechanism as the oxygen in air makes the apple turn brown. The most famous of the antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as the minerals selenium and zinc.

There are also plant-based antioxidants like lycopene, which has been in the news recently because of a study from Harvard showing that men who ate more than ten servings of tomato-based foods daily- high in lycopene- had a 35% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who didn't. Many other studies have shown the antioxidant powers of vitamin C, vitamin E and others

Atkins Advantage products have always contained antioxidants, which have been shown time and time again to have significant health benefits. Antioxidants may just now be hitting the mainstream, but consumers of Atkins products have had the Atkins Advantage of these super-nutrients for a long time.

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