Cells generate unpaired electrons, typically via oxygen- or nitrogen-based by-products during normal cellular respiration and under stressed situations. These pro-oxidant molecules are highly unstable and may oxidize surrounding cellular macromolecules. Under normal conditions, the reactive oxygen or nitrogen species can be beneficial to cell survival and function by destroying and degrading pathogens or antigens. However, excessive generation and accumulation of the reactive pro-oxidant species over time can damage proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. Over time, this oxidative stress can contribute to a range of aging-related degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration, and Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. It is well accepted that natural compounds, including vitamins A, C, and E, β-carotene, and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are powerful anti-oxidants that offer health benefits against several different oxidative stress induced degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). There is increasing interest in developing anti-oxidative therapeutics to prevent AD. There are contradictory and inconsistent reports on the possible benefits of anti-oxidative supplements; however, fruits and vegetables enriched with multiple anti-oxidants (e.g., flavonoids and polyphenols) and minerals may be highly effective in attenuating the harmful effects of oxidative stress. As the physiological activation of either protective or destructive pro-oxidant behavior remains relatively unclear, it is not straightforward to relate the efficacy of dietary anti-oxidants in disease prevention. Here, we review oxidative stress mediated toxicity associated with AD and highlight the modulatory roles of natural dietary anti-oxidants in preventing AD.
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