The War Antioxidants Fight for Us

Our own body is a warzone and we are not even aware of it.
The human body consists of different types of cells and these cells consist of different types of molecules. When an oxygen molecule becomes electrically charged, it becomes unstable and in its quest for stability, it tries to bond with other molecules, thereby destroying the healthy ones resulting to more unstable ones.
These unstable molecules are called free radicals; “free’ in a sense that they’re always floating around and constantly looking for molecules to bond with and  “radical” because they can merge with any cell and can thus destroy a wide variety of cells. The more free radicals a body has, the more healthy tissues can be harmed. Outside factors such as radiation, excessive sun exposure, smoking, alcohol, air pollution, stress and even chemicals such as asbestos can also promote the growth of these harmful organic molecules.
We all, of course, do not know what damaged tissues look like and it may seem negligible  since it’s not seen by the naked eye, but over time, these damages may become irreparable and may eventually lead to diseases.
Good thing our bodies won’t just give in to these damages without a good fight. The human body naturally produces the enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase, and various peroxidases to battle these radicals but the most effective way to battle these destructive molecules is to take in antioxidants.
It is the antioxidants’s job to neutralize the charged up radicals preventing them from bonding with other molecules, thus stopping the damage to a DNA. Studies show that people with lower concentration of free radicals have lower risk of certain types of cancer, heart diseases and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants are also believed to slow down (as it is an inevitable process) the visible signs of aging by preserving the skin’s natural radiance.
Antioxidants can simply be obtained by eating a balanced diet (that means you’ll have to eat your vegetable salad or fruits for desert)
Health officials currently recommend consuming about 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) as approved by the United States Department of Agriculture .

The most common sources of antioxidants are:

Spices.  

When measured by weight, spices are the richest source of antioxidants. The type of spice with the greatest antioxidant capacity is cloves, with an exceptional ORAC value of almost 300,000 units (but please don’t try to eat 100 grams of cloves just for the antioxidants!). Other spices rich in antioxidants are oregano, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, cinnamon, sage and vanilla.

Chocolate.

Wouldn’t you be happy to hear that your favorite pick-me-up food is also rich in antioxidants. Here’s something you probably have not heard of before, though -the more processed chocolate is, the less antioxidants it typically contains. Pure, unsweetened cocoa powder and baking chocolate both have phenomenal ORAC values of around 50,000, and dark chocolate candies can range in the 20,000s.
Coffee.

Despite what we all hear about caffeine, coffee is a great source of antioxidants.  Its ORAC value can range from about 15,000 to 17,000, depending on brew time, type of bean and other factors.

Berries.

Blackberries are a source of polyphenol antiox...
Blackberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Berries are the richest source of antioxidants among fresh fruits. The Himalayan goji berry and the tropical Acai berry top the list with respective ORAC values of about 25,000 and 18,500, although these varieties are pretty hard to find. Nevertheless, you’ll never go wrong with less-exotic berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries because are also excellent sources of antioxidants.  Berries, when juiced, can rack up up to 10,000 ORAC value each glass.

Nuts.

Nuts, aside from being protein-rich, are also are jam-packed with antioxidants. Pecans are the best source of antioxidants among nuts, with an ORAC value of close to 18,000. Walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds are not that far behind.

Dried Fruits.

Fruits are generally high sources of antioxidants, but they get richer once the water content had been removed.  Raisins (dried grapes) tops the list of dried fruits  with an ORAC value of 10,000 and  the prunes (dried plums) are not that far behind with a  value of 8,000 ORAC.

Cooked Vegetables.

Cooked vegetables like artichokes, red cabbage, red leaf lettuce, asparagus, spinach and broccoli top the list of vegetable with high  ORAC values.

Beans.

Kidney beans and black beans are the best sources of antioxidants in the beans-and-legumes family, offering up ORAC values in the 8,000s.

Colorful fruits.

Protective bioflavanoids are abundant in deeply-pigmented fruits and vegetable. It’s actually because of these flavanoids that they are rich in colors. So, every time you eat red apples, dark grapes and cherries, keep in mind that they have higher ORAC values.

If you’re more of a picky eater, you’ll have to take in supplements of Vitamins A, vitamin E, beta  carotene, lycopene and more; but before you stuff yourself with all the vitamins and minerals you could get your hands on, just remember, more does not necessarily mean better – take everything in moderation.

 

Web Sources:

http://www.lifed.com/10-best-food-sources-of-antioxidants

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