Oxidative stress, this is the key word that would cause, at least in part, aging, age-related diseases and a low life expectancy. To understand this concept, we should think of our healthy body as a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. At a certain point, however, this balance breaks, free radicals prevail and oxidative stress occurs. What can we do to fight oxidative stress? A new research (Ward et al, 2018) published a few months ago in the prestigious journal Nature Chemistry by a team from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and Auburn University, Alabama, has observed that zinc in association with coffee, tea and chocolate can counteract free radicals very effectively.
Coffee, tea and chocolate have one thing in common. In fact, all three contain an antioxidant compound, called hydroquinone. Hydroquinone alone is not able to act against free radicals, but if combined with zinc it forms a complex that produces natural protection against superoxide, a free radical produced by cellular respiration and able to damage the body's molecules, like proteins and DNA. Zinc and hydroquinone form a compound that mimics the superoxide dismutase enzyme, an antioxidant. In this way the superoxide is metabolized and damage to the body is avoided.
The study is truly fascinating. In fact, it manages to describe how the compounds found in foods can work in synergy. It is also possible that this research may pave the way for zinc fortified foods. At the moment it can be useful to combine foods that contain hydroquinone, such as tea, coffee and chocolate, with zinc-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, cereals. By the way, 90% dark chocolate proves to be a good source of zinc in addition to having hydroquinone!