Mexican researchers find the fruit bolsters cells’ power centers against harmful free radicals.
Atmospheric oxygen facilitated the evolution and complexity of terrestrial organisms, including human beings, because it allowed nutrients to be used more efficiently by those organisms, which in turn were able to generate more energy. However, as we find out more about how oxygen molecules work inside the body, more attention is being paid to their not-so-good effects, and researchers are seeking ways to thwart them.
A number of environmental factors — such as pollution, cigarette smoke and radiation — can turn the oxygen molecules found in mitochondria, the power plants of cells, into free radicals. These unstable molecules destroy virtually all the normal molecules forming cells, such as lipids, proteins and even DNA, by turning them into free radicals, too. This destructive phenomenon is associated with aging and occurs in a variety of diseases, including hypertension and diabetes, which represent major challenges for health systems due to their great social and economic costs. Those costs have motivated scientists worldwide to undertake intensive searches for substances that bolster cell resistance to the harmful effects of free radicals.