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Adding Anti-oxidants to the Diet

Anti-oxidants have been labelled as the magic bullet for a large range of diseases including various types of cancers and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants occur naturally in our bodies, or are obtained from certain foods; their primary function is to eliminate the damaging effects of free radicals that are in our bodies. The amount of antioxidants in our bodies together with those we get through our diet are usually enough to counteract the harmful effects of these free radicals. However, in cases where the body is overwhelmed, such as during times of stress, or when we are exposed to pollutants and toxins, this may not be enough.

ORAC no more! The USDA, previously a publisher of ORAC data, withdrew its web publication of ORAC values for common American foods in 2012. The USDA states that "ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products and by consumers to guide their food and dietary supplement choices."

We should get as many sources of anti-oxidants in our diet as possible. One way would be to take supplements that contain vitamin A, vitamin E or vitamin C or selenium. These very potent antioxidants are commonly found in many supplements. For those who seek a more natural way, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables is always an option. It's estimated that there are more than 4,000 compounds in foods that act as antioxidants, so there is plenty of choice. In addition, when you consume fruits and vegetables you are getting much more than just the antioxidants that you are looking for.

Below is a list of fruits and vegetables and their anti-oxidation power as measured by a test called the Aoxygen radical absorbence capacity@ or ORAC. The higher the ORAC value the higher the anti-oxidant power of the food.

Regularly adding some of these sources of antioxidants to your diet would be a good idea.

Table 1
FRUITVEGETABLE
Prunes5,770Kale1,770
Raisins2,830Spinach1,260
Blueberries2,400Brussels sprouts980
Blackberries2,036Alfafa sprouts930
Strawberries1,540Broccoli florets890
Raspberries1,220Beets840
Plums949Red bell pepper710
Oranges750Onion450
Red Grapes739Corn400
Cherries670Eggplant390
  1. Reference
  2. Food and Nutrition Research Briefs April,1999 U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service1

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