Since evidence became available that free radicals were involved in mechanisms for the development of major diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, there has been considerable research into the properties of natural dietary antioxidants. However, it has become clear that dietary antioxidants can only have beneficial effects in vivo by radical scavenging or effects on redox potential if they are present in tissues or bodily fluids at sufficient concentrations. For many dietary components, absorption is limited or metabolism into derivatives reduces the antioxidant capacity. For many dietary phytochemicals, direct antioxidant effects may be less important for health than other effects including effects on cell signalling or gene expression in vivo.
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