Antioxidants are special substances that can help prevent cell damage, especially when the damage is caused by oxidation. In some cases, antioxidants may also reverse some types of damage. Specific types of oxygen molecules can travel through the body and cause damage.
This is called oxidative damage, which creates free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous to the body and have been implicated in premature aging and cancer. There are a few antioxidant foods and herbs that are very high in the vitamin.
Oxidative damage also has a role in some diseases and has links with serious medical conditions, such as dementia, cancer, and heart disease. The body can help protect itself from oxidative damage by utilizing antioxidants found in many foods and herbs.
The Benefits of Antioxidants Foods Include:
- Slowing the aging process;
- Improved skin appearance (texture, moisture, even tone);
- Decreased overall cancer risk;
- Detoxification of the body;
- Increased life span.
Many herbs, fruits, and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants. Some antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene, flavonoids, and vitamin C. There are no established values for antioxidants, such as the recommended daily allowance (RDA) that is used for vitamins and minerals.
Antioxidant levels are determined by the oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) score. The ORAC score is the ability of a plant to absorb free radicals and eliminate them. The National Institute on Aging developed this measurement, and it is based on 100 g of the herb or food.
The Top 10 Foods High in Antioxidants and Their ORAC Score
1) Goji Berries
The Goji berries have 25,000 ORAC Score
2) Dark Chocolate
The Dark chocolate has 21,000 ORAC Score
The Pecans have 17,000 ORAC Score
4) Wild Berries
The Wild berries have 14,000 ORAC Score
The Elderberries have 14,000 ORAC Score
The Cranberries have 9,500 ORAC Score
The Artichoke has 9,400 ORAC Score
8) Kidney Beans
The Kidney beans have 8,400 ORAC Score
The Blackberries have 5,300 ORAC Score
The Cilantro has 5,100 ORAC Score
Some other foods rich in antioxidants are:
- Wild-caught salmon
- Red wine
It is advised to consume 2 to 3 servings of foods high in antioxidants each day to improve overall health. In addition to essential oils, foods, and herbs that are high in antioxidants, there are additional herbs and essential oils with high levels of antioxidants.
The Top 10 Antioxidant-Rich Herbs and Their ORAC Score
- Clove – 314,446 ORAC Score
- Cinnamon – 267,537 ORAC Score
- Oregano – 159,277 ORAC Score
- Turmeric – 102,700 ORAC Score
- Cocoa – 80,933 ORAC Score
- Cumin – 76,800 ORAC Score
- Dried parsley – 74,349 ORAC Score
- Basil – 67,553 ORAC Score
- Ginger – 28,811 ORAC Score
- Thyme – 27,426 ORAC Score
Other herbs with high levels of antioxidants include:
Add two to three servings of antioxidant-rich herbs each day.
The Major Health Benefits of Antioxidant-Rich Foods
1) Antioxidants for Healthy Eyes and Vision
Vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene have been associated with the prevention of macular degeneration, which is also known as age-related blindness.
Zeaxanthin and lutein, which are found in spinach, are also associated with reducing age-related vision loss. Bilberries contain flavonoids, and the resveratrol in grape skins are shown to support healthy vision.
2) Antioxidants to Improve the Appearance of Skin
Free radicals are known to contribute to premature aging, such as the early development of fine lines and wrinkles, but antioxidants may help reduce the damage. Increased beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants are associated with fewer fine lines and wrinkles and improved skin hydration.
Specifically, vitamin C can help reduce oxidative damage caused by environmental factors, stress, or a poor diet.
3) Antioxidants to Reduce the Risk of Vascular Disease
Vascular disease includes all diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Antioxidants play an important role in preventing free radical damage; they may also have a protective role in stroke and heart attack.
So far, there is no data showing all antioxidants have a protective effect against heart disease, but vitamin C might. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people with high vitamin C levels had a 50% lower risk of stroke.