With the holiday season over, now comes the time for all kinds of food resolutions, mainly focused on dieting. There are many reasons to think about eating better, but they do not all have to do with weight loss. Your food choices can help reduce stress in your body by reducing the number of free radicals in your cells.

While traditional holiday meals are laden with salt, fat and sugar, many foods we eat regularly, such as sweets and sodas, can also spike blood glucose and insulin levels. They can also increase the amount of free radicals, or molecules with unattached electrons, in the body, which can do serious cellular damage.

We hear a lot about antioxidants, and we are encouraged to eat foods that are rich in them. But what exactly are they, and why do we need them? As a researcher who examines cellular damage, I will explain the oxidative process and why it’s important to curb it. Free radicals — the cellular bad guys — are produced during the oxidative process. Antioxidants work to prevent some of the damage.