Catalase is a critical protein found in the cells of nearly all organisms that are exposed to oxygen. While oxygen is essential to life, using it creates harmful free radicals (chemically unstable molecules or atoms) in the body that have the potential to damage proteins, cell membranes, and even DNA structure. Catalase is a protein that works to stabilize these free radicals, in a process called anti-oxidation. It converts free radicals into hydrogen peroxide which ultimately breaks down to stable and safe water and oxygen. We are lucky to be amply supplied with catalase, however, with age our cellular supply of catalase declines, requiring us to receive it through nutrition. Many fruits, vegetables and other food types are rich natural sources of this protein, and can help counteract the deficits that come with age.
Note: Though catalase is one of the more heat-resistant enzymes, cooking still decreases enzyme activity; eating fruit and veggies raw will provide higher amounts of catalase.
Wheat Grass and Sprouts
According to the National Institute of Health, sprouts such as wheat and barley grass contain a high amount of antioxidants including catalase. Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, and the young sprouts of dark green plants contain significantly higher amounts of catalase than older ones. Organically grown, unprocessed sprouts will have higher health benefits than treated, manufactured vegetables.
There are tons of vegetable sources of catalase: Leeks, onions, broccoli, parsnips, zucchini, spinach, kale, radishes, carrots, red peppers, turnips, cucumbers, celery, avocado, potato, and red cabbage all have rich stores of catalase.
While all fruits contain catalase, some have more than others. Kiwi, peaches, cherries, apricots, bananas, watermelon, and pineapple have high amounts of catalase while apples and grapes have lower amounts.
Although whole foods are the best source of antioxidants, you can also get catalase in the form of supplements. The drawback of using supplements is they are often digested before they can reach the appropriate tissues in the body. Antioxidant supplements work best when formed from a combination of different enzymes. Vitamins or supplements made from whole foods that contain manganese, copper, zinc and selenium can provide the body with the necessary components to make more catalase.
Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.