Free radicals are atoms that contain an unpaired electron. Free radicals can damage cells and may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer . Atoms with free radicals are highly unstable and react rapidly with oxygen to form reactive oxygen species. The body can produce reactive oxygen species internally when it converts food to energy or the body can be exposed to free radicals from environmental sources, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
- Verhagen H, Buijsse B, Jansen E, Bueno-de-Mesquita B. The state of antioxidant affairs. Nutr Today 2006;41:244-50.