New protection against oxidative stress

Can chocolate, tea, coffee and zinc help make you more healthy?

This image contains tea and chocolate.
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A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Ivana Ivanović-Burmazović from the Chair of Bioinorganic Chemistry at FAU and Prof. Dr. Christian Goldsmith from Auburn University, Alabama, USA jointly have discovered that zinc is a trace material can protect against oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is responsible for aging and a low life expectancy to some extent. However, the zinc can activate an organic molecule which can later help to protect against oxidative stress.

How does it help to protect against oxidative stress? Zinc can protect against the superoxide. Superoxide is discovered could be responsible for the aging process and other different illnesses such as inflammation, cancer or neurodegenerative diseases.

Trace material zinc will help to ward off these illnesses and oxidative stress when taken together with a component investigated in foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, tea, and chocolate. This component is a hydroquinone group discovered in polyphenols. It simply means, the plant substances responsible for smell and taste.

Zinc activates the hydroquinone groups, which produces natural protection against superoxide, a by-product of human cell respiration which harms the body’s own biomolecules, for instance, proteins or lipids, also the human genome.

Hydroquinone alone is incapable of breaking down superoxide. If zinc and hydroquinone combine and a metal complex are created which emulates a superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD). These enzymes have an antioxidative effect likewise they protect the body from the degradation processes caused by oxidation.

In this way, the superoxide can be metabolized and damage to the organism prevented and eventually, oxidative stress is avoided.

This is the first time when the function of SOD enzyme has been copied without reverting to redox-active transition metals such as manganese, iron, copper or nickel. However the metals could also have an antioxidative effect, any positive effects are immediately outweighed by the fact that if taken excessively can even cause oxidative stress to increase.

Zinc is comparatively less toxic than the metals mentioned above. Which makes it possible for novel medication or supplements to be produced with considerably fewer side-effects. It would also be plausible to add zinc to food which contains hydroquinone naturally to boost the consumer’s health.

Ivana Ivanović-Burmazović stated, “It is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well become be available in future with added zinc. However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination.”

The results have now been published in Nature Chemistry.