What is an Antioxidant? What do they do? What foods contain Antioxidants
This process of oxidation will result in the production of free radicals which can in turn damage cells and tissues and accelerate ageing . Oxidative damage is implicated in many of the chronic illnesses we see today.
At any one time there are millions of chemical reactions occurring in the body and each process, whether it be an enzyme reaction or reaction within the mitochondria (energy producing parts of the cells) will result in the production of free radicals. however if we have enough antioxidants then the damage to surrounding tissues will be minimal.
Humans derive the majority of their antioxidants from food.
With the extra stresses upon us from toxicity, electromagnetic pollution, chemicals and even excess exercise etc, the requirement for them is increased, therefore the more foods Rich in Antioxidants we can eat makes a huge difference to our overall health and how we are ageing.
It is often helpful to supplement with a good quality antioxidant to help bridge the gap between our body requirements and what we can get from our diet.
Foods Rich in Antioxidant
The antioxidant level of a food can be measured by a test which determines its “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” or ORAC scale.
Foods that score highly on the OR AC scale have higher levels of antioxidants compared to those who score low on the ORAC Scale
A minimum of 3500 OR units a day is what we need for general health, however 5000 to 6000 will give far more health benefits and help to protect against accelerated ageing.
The following is a chart showing the ORAC scale of a range of fruits and vegetables
To give you an idea of different values so you can make the best choices for yourselves and
Antioxidant Levels in Foods
Per 100grams ORAC units Per item/serving ORAC
Blueberries 2234 ½ cup 1620
Prunes 5770 1 pitted prune 462
Kale 1770 ½ cup cooked 1150
Strawberries 1536 ½ cup 1144
Spinach (raw) 1210 1 cup 678
Spinach (steamed) 909 ½ cup cooked 1089
Plums 949 1 plum 626
Alfalfa sprouts 931 1 cup 307
Broccoli 888 ½ cup cooked 817
Sweet Potatoes 301 ½ cup cooked 301
Onion 449 ½ cup chopped 360
Corn 402 ½ cup cooked 330
Red Pepper 731 1 medium pepper 540
Peas frozen 364 ½ cup cooked 291
Potatoes 313 ½ cup cooked 301
Cabbage 298 ½ cup raw 105
String Beans 201 ½ cup cooked 125
Apple 218 medium 300
Carrots 207 ½ cup raw 115 cooked 160
Tomato 189 1 medium 233
Orange 750 1 orange 982
Celery 61 ½ cup diced 60
You can’t talk about antioxidants without mentioning one truly amazing nutrient with such profound Health benefits Tumeric really is a super food.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Is a member of the ginger family and is grown mainly in India, China and Asia. Turmeric has been used extensively in cooking for both its amazing yellow colour and also its flavour. It is Turmeric which gives curry its colour.
Turmeric has also been used as a medicine in both traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayuvedic Medicine for thousands of years.Turmeric has been used extensively, traditionally, for the treatment of inflammation Colic, pain, and menstrual difficulties. It has also been used as a poultice for pain and inflammation.
Currently there is a lot of research going on with Turmeric, in areas such as cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory activity, antioxidant qualities and even protective effects with the cardiovascular system, liver and digestion.
Turmeric has been found to have a protective effect on the Liver in a similar way to the herb Milk Thistle which is traditionally used to support the Liver.
Turmeric has been shown to protect the liver from the toxic effect of substances such as paracetamol, and may have a positive influence on conditions such as fatty liver and gallstones.
Turmeric has profound anti inflammatory benefits comparable to many medications but without side effects.
Turmeric s role in cancer prevention and treatment is particularly exciting.Tumeric appears to have an effect on tumour growth, migration, and also has a regulating effect on gene expression..
Turmeric also has strong anti microbial activity against a variety of bacteria, fungi and parasites.
Many studies have also shown the ability of this herb to influence cholesterol. The benefits include decreasing LDL cholesterol (the damaging cholesterol) and triglycerides (the circulating fat in the bloodstream) and also inhibiting platelet clumping.
This amazing Antioxidant also has huge benefits for the Gastrointestinal Tract including reducing spasm, increasing enzyme activity and inhibiting the formation of gastric ulcers