How natural dietary antioxidants in fruits, vegetables and legumes promote vascular health
Oxidative stress disturbs the normal redox state within the human body, and thus may trigger many human chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. Antioxidant properties of some bioactive components in plant-based foods have been proposed to be capable of controlling such disturbances. This hypothesis has initiated a great number of laboratory studies devoted to the understanding of the role of natural antioxidants in cardio-health promotion. This review summarizes these studies with an emphasis on major natural antioxidants found in three categories of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables and legume) and mechanisms that these antioxidants may use in promoting cardio-health. Since different food categories possess different bioactive compounds with various antioxidant capacities, specific foods, when consumed together, may produce synergistic antioxidant interactions and in turn have more positive physiological effects on cardio-health than when consumed alone. This review also highlights research on antioxidant synergisms. We recommended strategically selecting foods that provide multiple levels of protection against the development of cardiovascular diseases.