Free radicals are dangerous, right? Here’s what all the hoopla is all about via an excerpt from Bruce Fife’s The Coconut Miracle (and my follow-up)…
“Research over the past three decades has identified free radicals as a key player in the cause and development in degenerative disease and aging. Simply put, a free radical is a renegade molecule that has lost an electron in its outer shell, leaving an unpaired electron. This creates a highly unstable and powerful molecule entity. Free radicals will quickly attack and steal an electron from a neighboring molecule. The second molecule, now with one less electron, becomes a highly reactive free radical itself and pulls an electron off yet another nearby molecule. This process continues in a destructive chain reaction that may affect hundreds and even thousands of molecules.
“Once a molecule becomes a radical, its physical and chemical properties are permanently changed. When this molecule is part of a living cell, it affects the function of the entire cell. Free radicals can attack our cells, literally ripping their protective membranes apart. Sensitive cellular components like the nucleus and DNA, which carry the genetic blueprint of the cell, can be damaged, leading to cellular mutations and death.”
“Today some 60 or so degenerative diseases are recognized as having free-radical involvement in their cause or manifestation.”
“We are exposed to free radicals from the pollutants in the air we breathe and from the chemical additives and toxins in the food we eat and drink. Some free-radical reactions occur as part of the natural process of cellular metabolism. We can’t avoid all the free radicals in our environment, but we can limit them. Cigarette smoke, for example, causes free-radical reactions in the lungs. Certain foods and food additives also promote destructive free-radical reactions that affect the entire body. Limiting your exposure to these free-radical-causing substances will reduce your risk of developing a number of degenerative conditions. In this regard, the types of oil you use have a very pronounced effect on your health, because many oils promote the formation of free radicals.”
What kind of oil is Bruce Fife referring to? Polyunsaturated fatty acid oils, of course! The more unsaturated an oil, the greater an opportunity to form or harbor free radicals. Any exposure to oxygen, light, and [prolonged] heat can oxidize the highly unstable fat molecules in [poly]unsaturated fats. When oxidation occurs, free radicals form.
Take into account all of the highly-unsatuarted oils that are quite possibly in your daily diet: Soy [oil], corn oil, vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, crisco, canola oil, hydrogenated oil, nuts, seeds, and most raw, above ground vegetables. Check out all of your ingredient labels (food AND drinks) and find out what your frequented restaurants use for cooking oils. How many free radicals do you experience on a daily basis?
You can do the best you can to eliminate free-radical-encouraging-foods from your diet OR another way to slow down their oxidation rate once ingested is by adding a saturated fat to the meal, i.e. coconut oil, butter, beef fat, dairy fat, or palm oil.